The Jackson Institute for Global Affairs has selected Yale College junior Natalie Simpson for the 2022 Douglas A. Beck Prize.

The $1,000 award is given to Global Affairs undergraduates who have demonstrated a deep interest in and commitment to global affairs, with a preference for students interested in a career supporting United States national security. Winners are selected based on high academic achievement, leadership potential, personal integrity and commitment to public service.

A global affairs and history major, Simpson has a particular interest in Russia and the post-Soviet space. 

“I have really enjoyed taking more traditional Russian and Central Asian history classes, but also having the chance to take a class this semester with a former diplomat [Jackson Senior Fellow Robert Ford] with 30 years of experience in the Middle East. 

“My course of study has given me a good balance of the academic and the practical, which will be important as I go ahead to a career in foreign affairs,” Simpson said. 

Simpson is also pursuing intensive language studies in Russian, which she first began studying in high school. A directed reading course at Yale has allowed her to further immerse herself in the Russian language and culture. Simpson deploys her language skills as a research assistant at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, a think tank where she does research on the Russian military and writes a weekly newsletter on the invasion of Ukraine. 

“I’ve been able to apply my Russian language knowledge by reading Russian social media posts. One section of the briefing is me analyzing those posts, using skills that I learned in my Yale classes,” Simpson explained. 

On campus, Simpson participates in the Jackson Women mentoring program, which pairs up undergraduate students with a graduate student mentor. She was matched with a grad student who shares her interest in the post-Soviet space and Central Asia. 

“It’s not a region that a lot of people study, so it’s been really nice to be able to meet for coffee have someone to talk to about this niche interest,” she said. 

This summer, Simpson will complete an internship in Washington, D.C. at the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Eastern European Affairs. 

“I’m excited to be see the policymaking process and to be there as a student whose job it is to learn and listen,” she said. 

“I am looking forward to taking what feels like a first concrete step toward a career at the State Department.”