Meet Jason Thelen, F23

School: The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy

Degree: Master’s in International Law

Home: The state of Oregon is my jam. It’s where I want to be and where the people I love are. But I think home can be anywhere you build community.

Why was The Fletcher School the right place for you?

I came to international law in a circuitous way, starting out as an investment analyst in San Francisco. After four great years, I realized I needed work that was more meaningful for me; I grew up doing community service and I wanted my career to have more of a service orientation. I went to D.C. and earned two degrees: during the day, I worked full-time toward a law degree; at night I worked full-time toward a master’s in international affairs. After school, I worked for a non-partisan think tank focusing on international security through collaboration with allies. Eventually, I landed my dream job and became an attorney with the U.S. Navy.

During my time in D.C., I saw firsthand how organizations go to great lengths to try and integrate an international perspective. Looking for a program to study international law, I wanted an experience that went beyond merely incorporating a global viewpoint into conventional legal studies.

At Fletcher, exposure to an international community is a foundational principle—it’s an organic part of the program. There’s such a diversity of perspectives here, and being here has been an incredible blessing. I’ve had an absolute blast.

It sounds like you could choose from among many different career paths. What’s your advice for others in that situation?

Learn what you don’t want. Then go after the things you love.

Any particularly valuable lessons you learned outside of the classroom during your time at Tufts?

The importance of cultivating relationships and networks. That’s the way to begin to understand diverse perspectives. In times of trouble or challenge, it’s the other perspectives to which I’ve had access that have helped me think critically about what I’m doing and see problems from new angles.

What’s the one adjective that best describes you?

Loving. I love what I do, and I love the people I’m surrounded by. In the military we have this phrase: Bloom where you’re planted. That resonates with me: I find love wherever I end up, whatever I’m doing, and whoever I’m with. There are people who are tough to work with, but there are aspects of everyone you can admire—and there’s subject matter that’s tough to work with, but aspects of every subject that are inspiring.

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