Christina (Wright) Bruff
Christina (Wright) Bruff
Economics, International Political Economy
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.”