European Union Policy Studies

Remember Where You Came From

Sara Kinas

By Sara Kinas

There is a saying in life that goes something along the lines of, “when one door closes, another one opens”. After leaving Florence in the Summer of 2015, I was uncertain on where life was going to take me next. So many possibilities ran through my head and so many new doors were right in front of me. Before I knew it, I found myself working at Engility Corporation. I started working at Engility in May of 2016. Engility is a federal contracting company with a diverse portfolio of contracts throughout the U.S. Government’s defense, intelligence and federal civilian sectors. The program that I support, the International Criminal Investigative Training and Assistance Program (ICITAP), is situated in the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division. ICITAP is a mission that helps promote rule of law and protect human rights by providing law enforcement training initiatives in developing countries. As an EUPS student, I focused much of my research on international cooperation in combating terrorism, so I was naturally drawn to the ICITAP mission.

In my previous role at Engility, I worked in our program’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. About a year into my job, I was invited to listen to a group of students from another university present on their research on international justice reform programs. The entire presentation, all I could think of was how great of an opportunity it would be to engage EUPS students with some of the programs that ICITAP has in Europe. ICITAP has an extensive program in the Balkans area. Given the close ties that the EUPS program has to this region, it felt like my past and present were colliding before my eyes. I was eager to share details about the graduate program with my colleagues and hopefully pave the path for joint development on both fronts: Supporting my alma mater with new connections and developing research on the program I was so passionate about.

When considering how important it is to foster opportunities like this, I’m always reminded of the little things I’m proud of as a Double Duke. When people visit JMU’s campus, one of the most striking things they remember is how everyone holds doors open for each other. This act of ‘paying it forward’ may appear small and insignificant, but it leaves a lasting effect on us all as students and alumni. In my situation, it taught me to look for ways that I could help others in their career development. As a professional in an industry so closely tied to what I studied, I know how important it is to help current and recent grads break into the workforce. I use the skills that I learned from my time with EUPS on the job everyday. Working in a fast-paced, global environment is very relatable to EUPS alumni, so I always encourage students to apply to Engility when there are positions open with the ICITAP program.

I’ll never forget the first interview I had post-graduation. It came with the support of an EUPS alum who tried to open a door for me. Although the position didn’t ultimately work out, I was extremely grateful to this alum and the EUPS network. I became motivated to give back to my JMU community and take the initiative to open any doors I could for any wide-eyed, motivated recent graduates in the future. If the opportunity arises for me to give back to the institution that guided me to my professional success and to the incredible aid work and assistance ICITAP/Engility provides, I welcome it with open arms.

Sara Kinas graduated from JMU in 2014 with a B.A. in International Affairs and a minor in Modern European Studies. She then came to Florence and graduated from the EUPS program in 2015. During her time in Florence, she had a concentration in Justice and Home Affairs and International Security. Sara also worked as the Student Life and Newsletter Assistant, aiding with the careful planning and management of the program's major events. Since graduating, Sara has applied the skills she learned from EUPS to her professional career at Engility Corporation with the International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP). She is currently stationed in Ukraine and serves as the Procurement Operations Coordinator for ICITAP.

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Published: Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Last Updated: Thursday, January 23, 2020

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