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Profiles in Giving

And Justice for All

In the wake of 9/11, one alumnus wanted to help a generation

In the winter of 2013 Cristina Mezdrea, F14, felt like her career was missing something. It certainly wasn’t credentials. The 32-year-old Romanian lawyer had an impressive résumé. As a new attorney with degrees from the University of Bucharest and the Sorbonne in Paris, she’d helped sort out her home country’s admittance to the European Union (EU) in 2007, working on a range of issues from trade to corruption. From there, she landed a job with Romania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in 2011 was assigned to the Permanent Mission to the United Nations, where she was in charge of legal and political affairs of the General Assembly and the Security Council.

But she began to feel constrained by her focus on law. “I wanted more perspective, on politics and the economy,” she says. “But I didn’t want to just read some books. I wanted to interact with a diverse group of minds.”

A Global Opportunity

That meant the Fletcher School’s Global Master of Arts Program (GMAP). Catering to mid- to senior-level international professionals, the one-year program blends three two-week residencies with 33 weeks of online study.

Mezdrea came to GMAP as a Fred Pakis Global Master of Arts Scholar, receiving tuition assistance she says literally made it possible for her to enroll.

She was a fitting recipient of the scholarship. Its creator, Fred Pakis, F04, had arrived at Fletcher 10 years before her, also looking to broaden his horizons. In the wake of 9/11, Pakis, an Arizona resident who owned a software development company at the time, wanted to help. But he felt his background in math, engineering, and business was inadequate preparation to make him effective.

“I thought the first step was to ground myself in a top-notch formal education in international relations,” he says.

Returning the Favor

A year after graduating from Fletcher, Pakis, now a fulltime philanthropist, joined the school’s Board of Advisors. Not long after, he launched the Pakis GMAP Fund. “To help someone have the same experience that I did, who might not otherwise because of the tuition, seemed to be such a direct and measurable success,” he says. “It’s a very personal, rewarding type of philanthropy.”

For Mezdrea, who in April was hired as a legal advisor for the EU at the United Nations, the opportunity to earn a degree from Fletcher as a Pakis Scholar has proven invaluable.

“Just to know that your work is valued and appreciated by someone is very motivating,” she says. “The program has given me confidence and knowledge; [the scholarship] makes me want to give back.”