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Global Alumni Spotlight: Reaching High Peaks

Rinat Kapev, class of 2020, graduated from NC State University with a master of International Studies. Rinat is a first-generation college student from Russia. “I was brought up in a working-class family, and I grew up in a small village, where I took care of our small farm. My father was often away at work, so the farm was on me. Every day, before going to school, I had to wake up early to take care of things at the farm. Then again, after school. Thus, I was no stranger to hard work. In fact, this habit stuck with me for life and helped me achieve my goals.”

From Fulbright to International Development

As a child, Rinat was concerned with the world’s pressing issues. It was unfair to him why, for instance, in one part of the world, people enjoy access to education, healthcare, and almost unlimited access to food, whereas, in the other, people lack those basic human rights.  This is one of the questions Rinat has been still asking himself and trying to contribute to finding solutions. 

Rinat’s passion for international development stemmed from the desire to promote more well-being for all people. With this aim, he applied for the Fulbright Scholarship to continue research, and enhance his “innovation capital” and later lend a shoulder to help this world not to fall apart. He says, “Fortunately, the committee believed in my potential to impact the field and awarded me with the scholarship to study at NC State University. The NC State experience had a profound effect on my knowledge of the field: engaging classes, training courses, countless readings and writings, case studies, and thought-provoking discussions with international relations practitioners advanced my expertise, enhanced my critical thinking abilities, and developed an excellent research and writing skills necessary for my current position.” 

Rinat Kapev giving an interview

Currently, Rinat is a Resource Mobilization and Monitoring Associate at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. This agency is based in Budapest, Hungary. He supports maintaining relationships with existing partners and sourcing and assessing potential partnership opportunities with UN agencies, the European Union, international financial institutions, funds, and the private sector.

Development at NC State University

For Rinat, it was a huge blessing to graduate from the master of international studies program. “As I dreamed of studying at a U.S. university and worked hard to fulfill the dream, I enjoyed every moment of graduate school and tried to get the most out of it. I miss the time when I was studying around 12-14 hours a day, imbibing the knowledge, and driving to another city to get additional courses at Duke University. Hence, the whole MIS program is my favorite memory, and I am grateful to be its alum.” 

The program altered his life trajectory and opened new doors for professional and academic development. He is grateful to all staff and faculty members who supported his academic journey. Rinat recalls, “Dr. Hobbs, Dr. Nance, Dr. Griffin, and Dr. Appling were always available to help and give guidance. Nevertheless, I am particularly grateful to my adviser Dr. Kochtcheeva, who served as my main advisor in the program and supervised my capstone project. During my program, Dr. Kochtcheeva became not only my advisor but also a friend with whom we talked about classes, academic paths, career opportunities, and other topics that helped me successfully adjust to American culture and university life. She was always willing to speak to me after class and outside of regular office hours. The thought-provoking discussions that we had encouraged me to engage with other professors and enriched my experience immensely.”

Rinat Kapev talking to the Dean of the Graduate School.

Furthermore, Dr. Kochtcheeva supported Rinat and advocated strongly on his behalf. As a graduate student and a prospective job applicant, he received understanding, guidance, and support. Additionally, she encouraged him to pursue courses at Duke University and whole-heartedly supported him while Rinat returned to Russia over the summer to complete his degree from his home country. Dr. Kochtcheeva also endorsed his application to the Edmund S. Muskie Professional Fellowship and the World Bank Internship Program, providing letters of recommendation. Rinat has no doubt that her positive references helped him receive both a fellowship and an internship offer at the World Bank. 

As the first job can determine your career trajectory and success, Rinat advises that students should choose a place where they can learn skills and advance their expertise. He encourages students not to accept their first job offer and to think strategically about the value and relevance of the potential experience. Rinat points out that recruiters do not always look at the organization’s name but at your responsibilities and tasks. He says students should ask themselves the following:

  • Will this experience stand out on my resume? 
  • Will I have challenges that can enhance relevant skills? 
  • Will it be beneficial for my career goals? 

Reaching Higher

Rinat let us know his plans for this summer. He reports, “This summer, I plan to climb the highest peak in Europe – Mount Elbrus. I will take our lovely NC State flag with me to take a picture from the top. I am now actively training to complete this fantastic mountain challenge. I already tried diving, paragliding, and solo parachute jumping. Now it’s time to conquer another goal from my bucket list.”