Debbra Goh ’24 Selected for Gaither Junior Fellows Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, DC

Wesleyan’s Debbra Goh ‘24 has been accepted into the James C. Gaither Junior Fellows program at the Carnegie Institute for International Peace and will begin her work in Washington, DC in September.

The Gaither Junior Fellow Program is a program of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a unique global network of policy research centers with the mission to advance the cause of peace through the analysis and development of fresh policy ideas and direct engagement with decision makers in government, business, and civil society. The Gaither Junior Fellows Program is a one-year fellowship that allows graduating seniors and recent alumni (within a year of graduation) to work as research assistants to Carnegie’s senior scholars. Colleges and universities around the United States can nominate up to three candidates each year to go on to the national competition. 15 fellows are selected from the national pool to work within one of 14 distinct programs, focused on specific world regions or foreign policy areas.

Goh is the first Wesleyan student to be selected for this competitive opportunity since 2007, when Gregory Dubinsky ’07 was a selected as the junior fellow for Carnegie’s Russia program. Goh will work with the Carnegie Institute’s Sustainability, Climate, and Geopolitics Program, the newest program to be established at Carnegie.

The Sustainability, Climate, and Geopolitics Program at the Carnegie Institute focuses on the regional implications of the climate crisis, adaptation and security, and global governance challenges related to sustainability and climate. The program will be the hub of a global network of analysis and insightful ideas that builds a bridge between scientific research and policy action to tackle an increasingly complex set of interlocking climate and ecological crises.

At Wesleyan, Goh is a double major in Environmental Studies and Religion and a Center for East Asian Studies (CEAS) minor. She was recently awarded the Giffen Prize for Excellence in the Study of Religion and high honors for her thesis. She is the co-founder of WesThrift, Wesleyan’s student-run free thrift store; a Fellow at the Bailey College of the Environment Think Tank; a Coordinator at the Wesleyan Sustainability Office, and a Freeman Asian Scholar from Singapore.

Baron Fisher ‘26, fellowships assistant with the Office of Fellowships, reached out to Goh in April for comments on what had attracted her to apply for the Gaither Junior Fellows program, how this fellowship fits into her longer-term plans, and how her academics at Wesleyan prepared her for what she will be doing after graduation.

When asked about what drew her to this fellowship program, among the various options out there, Goh said, that she found out about the program through the fellowships office: “I was in the process of applying for another fellowship, and Erica recommended that I look into the Junior Fellows program.”

The more she learned about the Gaither Junior Fellows program, the more she realized it aligned with her own goals and approach: “I was drawn to the scholar-practitioner model that the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace employs. In this model, scholars conduct rigorous analysis alongside policy advocacy to create actionable solutions for complex challenges. This framework, which combines research with praxis, aligns with how I envision effective change-making to occur. I believe that issues surrounding sustainability and the climate are fundamentally transnational and will dominate future geopolitical challenges. Effective and equitable change-making thus requires integrating interdisciplinary knowledge and global perspectives of vulnerable communities into regional and international policy making.”

Goh expressed gratitude for Wesleyan’s support community and robust academic and extracurricular opportunities that have helped prepare her for the Gaither Junior Fellows year: “Majoring in Religion and Environmental Studies fostered my love for interdisciplinary learning and taught me about the myriad of lenses that can—and should—be used in problem-solving. My thesis in the Religion Department was a great opportunity to embark on sustained and independent research, and I learned a lot about the research process in this journey. My extracurricular experiences —whether working in the Wesleyan Sustainability Office, managing the Wesleyan Green Fund, or participating in environmental student groups— cultivated my passion for sustainability and taught me how to create actionable solutions for lasting change. Additionally, this year, I’ve been fortunate enough to be one of the student fellows in the Bailey College of the Environment’s Think Tank. My experience in the Think Tank alongside the other student fellows, professors, and scholars, has been an amazing opportunity to explore issues surrounding the climate from a range of academic disciplines and has given me a deeper understanding of this topic. The support from Erica Kowsz in the Fellowships Office has also been invaluable in navigating the fellowship application process.”

After her fellowship year, Goh said she envisions continuing to work in the field of sustainability and environmental policy. “I think the climate crisis will be the defining challenge of our generation, and I want to be involved in creating a more sustainable and equitable future for all.”

When asked about factors contributing to Debbra’s success, Associate Director for Fellowships at the Fries Center for Global Studies Erica Kowsz noted that, “Debbra is a fantastic all-around candidate. She has a record of leadership on campus, strong academics and original thesis research, and she speaks multiple languages. She is both a strong writer and speaker, which are very important factors in a selection process that involves writing an original essay and completing two rounds of interviews. I believe Debbra’s success with this competitive program is also due to her persistence in seeking out and trying for opportunities that can be, let’s face it, intimidating. Debbra embraces the process, seeks feedback and sees these kinds of applications as a journey. It’s an attitude I would definitely recommend to other aspiring fellows.”

For more information about the Gaither Junior Fellows program, read the basic info on the Office of Fellowships Gaither Junior page and see the Carnegie Endowment’s webpage on the fellowship for more details. Reach out to the Office of Fellowships at if you are interested in applying or have specific questions. Members of the classes of ’24 and ’25 will be eligible to apply for the fall 2024 deadline; the fellowship is awarded regardless of citizenship as long as the applicant has work authorization in the United States.