Career Moves: SPDC helps student open the door to five top-ranked graduate schools

Nicole Plante ’20, an international and global studies major from San Antonio, Texas, heads to Harvard University in the fall to pursue a master’s degree in Middle Eastern studies.


Nicole Plante ’20 is the next student to be featured in the “Career Moves” stories as she offers keen advice for students applying to graduate schools.

During Nicole Plante’s college career, she became passionate about humanitarian aid and response.

Harvard University

She solicited help from the Student Professional Development Center in crafting a graduate school application that highlighted her academic and extracurricular background, such as her undergraduate research on refugees. Her hard work and determination to pursue higher education in a subject she loves has culminated in acceptances from New York University, Georgetown University, George Washington University, University of Texas and Harvard University.

This fall, she will pursue a master’s degree in Middle Eastern studies.

Plante recently answered questions from the SPDC about steps she took to get there.

Who did you work with, and what help did you receive, from the Student Professional Development Center?

I worked with both René Jackson and Rhonda Kosusko. I met with René Jackson early on to discuss the timeline for applying, the application process, and schools. Throughout the process of applying, they both helped me with my personal statements and scholarship essays.

Please tell me about your experience in getting accepted.

Being accepted to all of these programs was exciting. It is nice to know that all of the work and stress involved in applying has paid off.  I am fortunate to have options for my graduate study and I am excited about the possibilities that each program offers.

What recommendations would you share with students about the Student Professional Development Center?

I would recommend that students contact the SPDC as soon as possible. It was beneficial to meet with the SPDC before applying and talk through the timeline. Meeting with them early allowed me to feel fully prepared and not rushed or stressed throughout the process. They also were able to give me tips for finding programs, which programs to apply to, taking the GRE, what combination of schools to apply to, but then also help me throughout the application process with essays. The earlier you meet with them the more help and guidance you can get throughout the process.

What career goals do you have after you gain experience?

After graduate school, I hope to work with refugees or more broadly in humanitarian aid and response. I am not exactly sure what this will look like, but right now, I am considering working in policy or a thinktank. I have also thought about working with an international organization like the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees or pursuing foreign service.


The staff at the Student Professional Development Center is thrilled for Plante and cannot wait to see what the future has in store for her. The center’s trained staff is here to support Elon students through every step of applying to graduate schools. Whether it is figuring out if a master’s degree is the right path or assisting with applying for scholarships later down the road, the staff wants to see Elon students grow and succeed in higher education.