Sarah Skaluba graduated with an M.A. in Asian Studies in 2018, concentrating in politics and security, with an honors certificate in International Business Diplomacy. She is currently a Policy Associate at BSA | The Software Alliance, where she primarily works on global digital trade issues related to cross border data flows, as well as issues related to law enforcement access to digital evidence. As the leading advocate for the global software industry, BSA engages with governments across the world to advocate smart, forward-looking technology policy that will foster innovation and growth across all sectors of the economy. Recently, her work has focused on ensuring the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and U.S.-Japan trade negotiations include strong digital trade provisions that prohibit data localization and foster cross-border data transfers. From drafting submissions to the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) and other U.S. Government Agencies, to engaging with external stakeholders and foreign government delegations, the skillset and knowledge she developed while at MASIA, has proven invaluable as she hones her career in digital trade and technology policy.
While at MASIA, she completed internships at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Simon Chair in Political Economy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), and the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies with the U.S. Department of Defense.
Please tell us about yourself. What led to your interests in Asian Studies?
While at the University of Michigan, I grew interested in East Asian religions and spirituality, so after graduation I moved to Japan to explore these interests further and gain experience living and working abroad (at the time I thought I wanted to pursue a career as a U.S. Foreign Service Officer). During the two years I lived in Japan as an assistant language teacher with the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program, I developed a deep understanding of Japanese culture and society, but was keenly interested in learning more about regional politics and security, which led me to Georgetown’s Asian Studies Program in Fall 2016.
How did the Asian Studies Program at Georgetown University prepare you for the challenges and opportunities you face today?
As trade tensions with China reach a historic high, and the U.S. and Japan continue trade talks in a post-CPTPP world, the knowledge and skillset I developed at Georgetown has been critical to the policy work I do every day — whether coordinating with our global staff in Singapore on advocacy related to data localization mandates in India or drafting digital trade provisions to be used in a future U.S.-Japan trade agreement.
What specific skills and knowledge did you gain from Asian Studies courses at Georgetown?
The analytical skills I developed at Georgetown through synthesizing large amounts of research into concise policy memos have proven tremendously helpful in my professional life. As did my coursework with Dr. Green, where I developed a deep understanding of U.S.-Japan relations and Japanese domestic politics. This has helped shape my understanding of the current U.S.-Japan trade talks and the potential impact a future agreement will have not only bilaterally, but also globally.
What advice would you give to prospective/current students in the Asian Studies Program?
Utilize your network! Alumni, faculty, and the greater SFS community at large offer an incredible wealth of knowledge and insight – don’t be shy about asking for advice or professional guidance! And don’t be afraid to challenge yourself and push yourself outside of your comfort zone – whether it’s taking that new course outside of your focus area or applying for that dream internship.