Dobriansky '77 Inaugurates Jurist Round Table
The lecture awarded students a new perspective on life after graduation
Eric Lightfoot (SFS '08), felt that the lecture "awarded students a new perspective on life after graduation.... The high point was the give and take Dobriansky had with the students," he said. "It was clear that she was really interested in what we were doing, studying, and hoped to do later in life." Dobriansky's chief advice to students was that they must always be passionate, venture bravely out into the world, and experiment with as many different applications of their degree as they possibly can.
The Michael Jurist Distinguished Alumni Round Table (MJDART) Series is designed to expose School of Foreign Service undergraduates to the rich and varied accomplishments of SFS alumni who return to campus in an informal, round table luncheon setting to speak about where their degree has taken them, their personal experiences, successes and challenges faced.
The MJDART series is named for Michael Jurist (SFS '07). Michael was beloved in the Georgetown community and known to many for the leadership role he played in the Lecture Fund. His sudden death in the summer of 2007 shocked the many people his life touched in the University community and across the world.
Michael's inquisitive and adventurous spirit as well as his role as a leader and mentor to his peers inspired the series, which was made possible by the generous support of Michael's family and friends. The series allows current students the opportunity to talk with two notable SFS alumni each semester in a relaxed, personal setting. Michael's father, Paul Jurist, remarks that he and his wife Vesna first considered endowing an annual event, through the Lecture Fund, in Michael's memory, which they "knew would have perpetuated Michael's interests." They changed their mind, however, because they weren't sure that such an approach would have had a great enough benefit to students. "It would have helped to keep Michael's name alive," said Paul, "but what would it have done?"
"The idea for the series made sense," said Paul, "because it could make a real difference in the lives of students unsure about which career to pursue as well in the lives of those who know what they would like to do but are unsure about how to get there. We knew that if we could help even one student during each lunch, we would have made a tangible difference in a student's life."
The series aims not only to provide students with inside information on the career paths of the featured alumni, but to answer more specific and personal questions, including: How do I get to where I want to be? What will the tradeoffs be in pursuing this career? Vesna and Paul felt that this kind of personal format was "more in following with Michael's personality." As a result of this approach, the lunches will feature alumni from all fields at different stages in their careers, so that students with broad and varied interests can all take something away from the series.
In the future, the events will be limited to a small number of students in order to preserve the personal interaction between students and alumni. The inaugural event received a warm reception from students as well as Paul and Vesna, who believe that it "met the series objective of helping students in an environment of roundtable closeness." Eric Lightfoot agrees: "The Jurists had hoped to bring this kind of dialogue between students and alumni to the forefront of SFS culture, and there can be little doubt that this first lecture is a great step in the right direction."