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Economics

Alumni

  • Christina (Wright) Bruff '04

Christina (Wright) Bruff ’04

Class Year

’04

Major(s)

Economics, International Political Economy

Current home

Cheverly, MD

Current position

Cooperation and Development Counselor, U.S. Mission to the Organization of American States

Christina (Wright) Bruff ’04 received degrees in international political economy and economics, with minors in political science and Spanish. During her time at Carthage, she served an eight-month internship with the Department of State’s Bureau of International Organization Affairs in Washington, D.C. She also went on a J-Term study tour to Cuba with professors Yuri Maltsev, Penny Seymoure, and Jeffrey Roberg, where she analyzed the impact of the dollar on Cuban political, economic, and social systems for her senior thesis.

After graduation, Mrs. Bruff joined the Peace Corps as a Community Economic Development Advisor in the Dominican Republic. She worked with youth, artisans, and community groups on a variety of income generation projects, including a youth business plan competition and a national artisan fair. Mrs. Bruff received a master’s degree in public affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, where she specialized in development studies and completed projects with the United Nations Development Programme and the Millennium Challenge Corporation.

Mrs. Bruff works as a Cooperation and Development Counselor in Washington, D.C., where she leads her development section at the U.S. Mission to the Organization of American States (OAS), helping to promote economic growth and sustainable development in OAS member countries. The OAS is a regional organization comprising countries across North America, Latin America, and the Caribbean. It’s the oldest regional organization in the world, and convenes countries to address issues related to democracy, human rights, security, and development.

“Carthage professors are second to none when it comes to supporting students and truly becoming vested in students’ academic goals.”

 

What have you enjoyed most about your career?

“I’ve loved that I’ve had the opportunity to work on a wide variety of issues and become a collector of experiences. I’m a generalist in the sense that I’ve honed a professional skill set – critical thinking, analysis, writing, and communications – and have banked on that skill set to effectively address a variety of problems, from within domestic policy to international policy to Sub-Saharan Africa to Latin America. I am truly blessed in that I am never bored, and I can draw from sometimes disparate experiences to develop creative, insightful solutions to problems.”

How did Carthage prepare you?

“Without a doubt, Carthage’s liberal arts education provided the foundation for making connections across very different fields. As an international political economy major, I took courses in political science, economics, geoscience, business, and Spanish. I was constantly pulling lessons from one class and applying them in others; even a long-forgotten freshman-year course provided me with valuable lessons to apply in my senior year Honors capstone class.”

How has your liberal arts education benefitted you?

“Carthage made risk-taking possible — to be comfortable with tackling new subjects and instead of saying, ‘I don’t know anything about that,’ flipping the script to say ‘I don’t know anything about that right now, but I have the intellectual curiosity and ability to learn.’ I remember thinking at Carthage — why do I have to take these classes when I’m not even in the major? What does architecture have to do with international development? I’ve since come to appreciate that by broadening my exposure to different topics and developing my ability to think critically across multiple disciplines, I’ve set myself up for career opportunities that I may have never considered otherwise.

For example, after five years of working at the Government Accountability Office (GAO), I had the opportunity to interview for a job at the State Department, within the Bureau of African Affairs. My only concern? I had no Africa background! What I did have, however, was an international development and economics background, and a variety of skills developed as a GAO senior analyst – critical thinking, writing, interviewing, and public speaking. Instead of focusing on my lack of regional expertise, I instead promoted the subject-matter expertise and skillset I could provide in the position. I ended up getting the job for that very reason.

Making the jump to the State Department has been incredibly rewarding; in the past four years I’ve moved from promoting economic development in Africa to negotiating at the United Nations to addressing development issues in Latin America. There’s a common thread there, but all have proven to be very different experiences.”

Tips for current Carthage students:

“Don’t be intimidated by the course requirements or disinterested in courses that seem to be unrelated to your major. You never know what you might stumble upon – a new career path you’ve never considered, a topic that deepens your understanding of your major. Get involved with student groups — Residence Life Council, Model UN, and theatre were some of my favorite activities!”

Favorite Carthage memories:

“My favorite Carthage memories are the sound of the church bells in the early evening; the sunsets on Lake Michigan; and the lifelong relationships I built during my four years there. Carthage gave me the foundation for my career and the confidence to know that I was capable of pursuing my goals.”

  • Quick Facts

    • Carthage is named a Best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review (2021), a designation given to only 25 percent of four-year schools.

    • The Tower, Carthage’s newest residence hall, provides some of the best views on campus — if not in the Midwest! In addition to #carthageviews of the lake from seven stories up, residents enjoy suite-style living and two floors of shared campus spaces for gaming, cooking, group meetings, or quiet studying. Learn more about all housing options.

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    • 91% of employers say critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills matter more than your major when it comes to career success. Learn more about how the liberal arts prepare you for a successful career.

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    • Things look new at Carthage because they are. Our science center, student union, athletic and recreation center, and numerous residence halls have all been constructed or newly renovated in the last 15 years.

    • Carthage offers majors, minors, and concentrations in more than 50 areas of study, from marketing to neuroscience, nursing to music theatre.

    • Our Summer Undergraduate Research Experience offers select students a research budget, one-on-one mentoring with a professor, and 10 weeks of analyzing, deciphering — and getting paid.

    • So the lake is kind of a focal point, but there’s a lot more to love about our campus — like the fact that our more than 80-acre campus is also an arboretum and wildlife sanctuary. Focused on keeping campus lush forever, we plant between 50 and 75 new trees every year from a variety of species.

    • Carthage was founded in 1847. That’s more than 170 years of leaders, makers, and go-getters going out and going forth. Read more about Carthage’s rich history.

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    • Abraham Lincoln was an early Trustee of the College, and U.S. Secretary of State John Hay was a Carthage alum. The two still have a proud place on our campus. Spend some time with them in our Sesquicentennial Plaza. On warm days you’ll find professors leading their classes here.

    • Come to Carthage; hear yourself think — think … think …
      Legend has it that Sesquicentennial Plaza holds a perfect echo. Just stand with both your feet on the “1847,” face Straz, and start talking. “You’re the only one who can hear you, but you’ll be crystal clear,” promises English and theatre alumna Mikaley Osley.

    • Our Great Lake provides Carthage students with some amazing views. Think classes on the beach, lake views from the lab, and sunrises from your dorm room. “I love waking up in the morning with the sun shining off the lake. Nothing compares to the view in the morning,” recalls biology and neuroscience major Ann O’Leary.

    • Carthage awards up to 35 Presidential Scholarships each year, which range from $25,000 up to full tuition. Learn more.

    • For a full decade, NASA has selected Carthage students to conduct research aboard its zero-gravity aircraft. Lately, the stakes have risen. A team of underclassmen is grinding to prepare a tiny but powerful Earth-imaging satellite for launch to the International Space Station. Learn more about the space sciences at Carthage

    • Carthage is the only college or university in the Midwest where every freshman takes a full-year sequence of foundational texts of the Western intellectual tradition. Learn about Intellectual Foundations.

    • With a student-faculty ratio of 13:1, your professors will know who you are. They will also know who you want to be — and how to get you there. Meet our faculty.

    • There are more than 130 student organizations on campus, from Amnesty International to Fencing to Frisbee, Chem Club to Stand Up Comedy. See how easy it is to get involved.

    • True story: There are more than 27 art galleries, a dozen museums, and nine theatres within 25 miles of Carthage. Some highlights: The nationally recognized Racine Art Museum, the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago, and the Milwaukee Art Museum. Learn more about our location.

    • What’s better than one professor? Two professors. What’s better than two professors? Two professors from totally different fields teaching a single class. There’s debate. Discussion. Differing perspectives. This is where the magic happens. That’s why every student takes a Carthage Symposium.

    • You can’t hide here — not with only 17 other students in the classroom with you. That’s going to be rough some mornings. But later, when you’re able to argue your point of view thoughtfully, express your opinions succinctly, and meet challenges head-on, without fear … Yep, you’ll thank us.

    • Carthage is ranked in the Top 5 in the country for student participation in short-term study abroad. Every J-Term, hundreds of students travel all over the world on faculty-led study tours. Imagine a month in Sweden, Rome, Cuba, Senegal, India, Japan …

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