The Graduating Class of 2020: Charlotte Gorman (MGPS)

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May 20, 2020
LBJ student Charlotte Gorman (MGPS '20)
Charlotte Gorman during the 2020 Crisis Simulation.


What is your favorite memory from your time at the LBJ School?

Even though everyone had said the Crisis Simulation would be awesome, I wasn't sure it was worth it to spend an entire weekend inside the LBJ building. I was a negotiator for the China delegation, and we had such a fun time acting as a spoiler in the (fake) Sudanese peace talks. We had a retired ambassador as our team mentor, who had served as the State Department's spokesperson and was serving in Hong Kong during the handover in 1997, so it was incredibly interesting to hear his insights on China's role in the developing world. Plus, he gave us great advice on how to stay professional and think analytically under pressure.

What is the most unexpected thing that happened to you during your time at LBJ?

During my summer internship in DC, I reached out to Girl Security, a nonprofit that engages young women in national security programming run by women practitioners in the field, to participate in a wargame exercise they were running with RAND. I ended up getting interviewed for an NPR feature and introduced as an "unidentified person" on national radio, so that was hilarious.

Tell us about your next steps.

I'll be part of the inaugural cohort of McCain Fellows, a new program in the Department of Defense created by last year's National Defense Authorization Act in honor of the late Sen. John McCain. I'll be serving at the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy for one year.

What is your advice to the incoming class?

Take classes outside of LBJ! It's easy to only look at the Public Affairs electives and focus on your GPA. I ended up in three law classes over my two years and they were some of my favorite classes. I got to dig in on international law and cybersecurity policy issues and got As, even though everyone scares you about the curve. I wish I'd had the chance to take a negotiating class at McCombs.

What class or experience left the biggest impression on you?

Being able to chat with faculty about their professional experiences in public service has been so fascinating. To mention just a couple, I've taken classes with the former chair of the National Intelligence Council (Ambassador Hutchings) and former director for Cybersecurity on the National Security Council (Eric Greenwald). The two economics professors I had, Sheila Olmstead and James Galbraith, completely changed my view of that discipline for the better.

You experienced an unprecedented change to your school experience this year. What was the most unexpected thing you discovered about yourself during this time?

I didn't realize just how big a motivating force my classmates and peers were in giving me energy and inspiration day in and day out. Behind the webcam, I found it much harder to engage in class and get assignments done. Zoom is tiring, for sure, but it was more exhausting to be without that constant sounding board of smart people who are interested in the same things I am and hoping to make a difference.

What else would you like us to know about you?

Some other things I did during my time at UT:

  • Student representative on the board of the LBJ Future Forum
  • Student coder on the Strauss Center collaborative project with the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) to track violence targeted against women worldwide
  • Archer Center Summer Graduate Fellow in Washington, DC
  • Teaching assistant on undergraduate U.S. history courses for three semesters
  • Clements Center Graduate Portfolio in Security Studies


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