Lillehaugen was awarded a James C. Gaither Fellowship through the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Each year, the program chooses 10-12 graduates for one-year fellowships. These research and analysis positions have often gone to students from Ivy League schools.
“Matthew Lillehaugen’s selection in the South Asian Studies program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C., is truly a tremendous accomplishment,” says political science professor Dr. Rebecca Moore. “Each year, the endowment – one of the world’s most well-respected foreign policy think tanks – selects from a pool of roughly 400 applicants nominated by participating colleges across the United States.”
As a political science and global studies major, Lillehaugen has been diving into topics of peace and conflict throughout his academic career. Though it was a tough decision whether to pursue physical science or political science, he determined his sophomore year he wanted to work in international affairs.
“The interdisciplinary nature of my studies and time at Concordia have been crucial in preparing me for this position,” Lillehaugen says. “The South Asia position in particular was looking for candidates with backgrounds in international relations theory, interest in both military issues and the challenges associated with transnational terrorism, and a degree of comfort with quantitative data analysis.”
For some that might seem like a heady combination, but Lillehaugen has put himself through the paces to be ready for this challenge. He has served as a Peace Scholar, researched using math to explain and predict Turkish politics, and ran cross country and track and field where he earned Academic All-American honors.
Dr. Daniel Biebighauser, mathematics, and Dr. Sonja Wentling, history, worked with Lillehaugen on his Turkish research. Biebighauser says Lillehaugen drove the project and did amazing work.
“He came up with the project idea, combining our disciplines, and took the lead in setting the direction of the project,” Biebighauser says. “It really was his idea the whole time. I was always impressed with his ideas and questions during our research meetings.”
With the Carnegie program, Lillehaugen will be working as a research assistant at their offices in Washington, D.C. He will be doing everything from helping write op-eds and journal articles to assisting with qualitative and quantitative data. He believes that this opportunity will help him discern his future.
“My long-term goals are to pursue a career in government service, potentially as part of the diplomatic corps,” Lillehaugen says. “In the short-term, I would hope to find future positions, both at home and abroad, that would allow me to gain practical experience in the fields of international security and diplomacy.”