Alumni Spotlight: Grace Faerber

April 16, 2024
two women standing with white house background

Grace and a friend at the White House Briefing Room.

Grace is a China Analyst at Exovera, a company that conducts national security research and analysis for clients in the public sector. At Exovera, Grace’s research has focused on China’s military affairs for several government clients. In 2022, Grace received a Master’s in International Studies with a concentration in International Politics from Johns Hopkins University after completing Chinese-language coursework and a Chinese-language thesis. Grace studied in Taiwan as a Boren Fellow for a year during her graduate studies. In 2020, Grace graduated from the University of Arizona (UAZ) Franke Honors College with majors in East Asian Studies and Global Studies and a law minor. Grace grew up in Mesa and has studied Mandarin Chinese for over 13 years and has an advanced language proficiency. 

Tell us about yourself:  

I grew up in Mesa, AZ, playing soccer and swimming. I received an International Baccalaureate education in 6th-12th grade and took Mandarin Chinese classes during that time. The introduction to Chinese language and culture inspired me to study East Asian Studies with a focus on Chinese language at UAZ. Professor Andres Onates’ US-China Relations course inspired me to combine my Mandarin skills with my interest in international relations and add a second major in Global Studies. After graduating, I lived in Taiwan for a year and completed an all-Mandarin master’s through Johns Hopkins University. Then, I moved to Washington, DC, and ultimately began working for Exovera as a China Analyst.  

In what ways has your Franke Honors experience had an impact on your career path and who you are today? Who or what inspired you most?  

My time in the Franke Honors College introduced me to other incredible Honors students and helped me make some of my best friends at UAZ. Freshman year I lived in the then-Honors College dorm, Arbol de la Vida. Social events, classes, and meeting students in the Honors dorm helped me feel part of a small, like-minded community at UAZ. Honors classes also allowed me to interact with Honors students and distinguished professors in a small classroom environment. Small Honors courses on American Foreign Policy, Globalization, and the Supreme Court advanced my skills in writing, debate, research, and analysis and prepared me for my master’s studies and work today.   

During your time in Franke Honors, did you receive a scholarship and if so, what ways did receiving a scholarship impact your life?  

At UAZ, I was able to study abroad in China because of funding through Franke Honors. The summer after my freshman year, my East Asian Studies peers and I traveled to Hangzhou, China, and studied Chinese language and culture. The Franke Honors Study Abroad Scholarship supported my ability to afford to study abroad and the opportunity to practice my language skills in-country.  

As a China Analyst for Exovera, what are you most passionate about in your work? What are some of your biggest rewards, and challenges?  

As a China Analyst, I get to use my Mandarin skills to analyze original Chinese documents and guide the US government’s understanding of Chinese military doctrine and strategy. I enjoy conducting research in English and Mandarin and writing reports on my findings; it is rewarding to think that my work may guide the US government’s approach to military relations with China. A challenge, on the other hand, is filtering through the sheer volume of information available and spending my time wisely. 

As a graduate of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences with a Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies, what advice would you give to current students? 

I encourage current UAZ/Franke Honors students to take advantage of the variety of interesting classes taught by experienced professors available to them! Even if a course doesn’t align exactly with their focus, it could spark new passions and opportunities, as the US-China Relations course did for me! I also encourage students to take advantage of on-campus events, socials, clubs, and more so they can find their community on campus. 

There are many ways for alumni to give back. What forms of engagement do you look for or find most valuable?  

I am a member of the Recent Alumni Advisory Council, which allows me to engage with other young alumni. Through the council, I have returned to Tucson to attend alumni engagement events and reconnect with the school at the President’s Tailgate, football games, and more. I have also attended happy hours, socials, and game-watch parties in Washington, DC with other UAZ/Franke Honors alumni through the Capital Cats DC alumni network. 

As a proud UAZ Franke Honors Alumni, what were some of your favorite college memories?  

Some of my favorite college memories were attending on-campus events and football games with friends I met at the Honors dorm and in classes. My study abroad experience was especially memorable and couldn’t have been possible without the support of the Franke Honors College. I also spent a summer in Washington, DC through the Washington Semester program, taking a course at American University and interning for an Arizona Senator at the Capitol, which gave me incredible exposure to different career pathways I could take and is what inspired me to move to Washington, DC. 

Any final words of wisdom for current Franke Honors students, or young alumni who are just starting in their careers? 

I encourage current students and young alumni to take advantage of on-campus jobs and internships while they are in school or shortly after graduating. During my time at UAZ, I loved working for the Campus Recreation Center as a Marketing Assistant and Student Ambassador and cherished the work relationships and friendships I made through that job. Developing work or internship experience outside of classes can make a recent graduate a much stronger job candidate.