University of Maryland Individual Studies Program

Student Profile: Mohammad Zia

Mohammad Zia

IVSP Major: Global Diplomacy & Development

Hometown: New York, NY

Honors: Truman Scholar, Rangel Scholar, UMD Honors Portz Outstanding Student, Federal Semester Fellow, C.L.I.P. Fellow, Office of Multi-Ethnic Student Education Academic Excellence Award, Princeton University PPIA Fellow, Boren Scholar

Internships: Research Intern, Wamda Research Labs (Entrepreneurship think-tank in Amman, Jordan); Economics Section Intern, U.S. Department of State Office of Afghanistan Affairs; Public Affairs Intern, U.S. Embassy in Paris, France; Virtual Student Foreign Service Intern, USAID Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs; International Unit Student Aide, U.S. Department of Justice; International Development Finance Intern, ShoreBank International; Research Intern, The Millennium Project (UN founded think-tank)

Extracurricular Activities: UMD STAND, Darfur Dream Team Sister Schools Program, UMD Muslim Student's Association, Intramural Football

Study Abroad: Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (Research and volunteering with HIV-infected orphans); Rabat, Morocco (Language study and volunteering with disabled youth); Masaka, Uganda (Volunteering with sustainable development); Nice, France (Intensive French language study); Paris, France (Full-time internship); Amman, Jordan (Intensive Arabic language study and IVSP senior capstone research)

Post Graduation Plans: Economic empowerment and entrepreneurship related work in the Greater Middle East and Africa.

What has the Individual Studies Program allowed you to do that you otherwise would have been unable to?
"Pursuing an IVSP major has been the single greatest academic decision in my life. The IVSP program has allowed me to truly make the world my classroom. Instead of just studying global issues, I have been able to travel and learn from first hand perspectives. IVSP has helped me purse volunteering opportunities in Tanzania and Morocco and helped me coordinate semesters abroad in France and Jordan. I have also had an incredible opportunity to build a close relationship with my faculty advisor, Dr. Donna Howard. She is a great resource who provides me with both guidance and excellent ways to critically think about my academic goals and career aspirations. She has helped shape my IVSP experience through her mentorship, kindness, and approachability. IVSP has also enabled me to meet other students who share my passion for an entrepreneurial and creative approach to an academic experience."

What led you to create your own Individual Studies Program major instead of declaring a conventional major?
"I wanted to study development in a global context that would allow me to understand the dynamic relationship between the Western world and developing nations across Africa and the Greater Middle East. My interests were focused on the convergence of economic development and diplomacy, so I wanted to pursue an academic program that would help me develop that focus. I also wanted to take charge of my education and challenge myself to create something that would enable me to fully engage in global issues."

What do you like best about the Individual Studies Program staff/office support?
"The IVSP staff is always there to help faciliate plans and provide us with ways to make our hopes and aspirations come to life. The staff has provided me with flexible ways to pursue my goals and always offers advice for even the simplest questions. The office support is convenient and the staff is very approachable. Most of all, Dr. Joan Burton is an incredible person. Her passion for students and her drive to help them achieve their goals serves as an example for university educators across the world."

How does your Individual Studies Program degree empower you for the future?
"My multi-disciplinary major will empower me to look at multiple facets when dealing with global issues in development and diplomacy. The dynamic fields I plan to work in require a dynamic education and my IVSP experience was incredibly dynamic and diverse."

In your eyes, what three words best describe the Individual Studies Program?
"Entrepreneurial, Empowering, Exciting"


University of Maryland Logo
Individual Studies Program  Campus Location: 2407 Marie Mount Hall
Appointments: 301.314.0023  Email:
IVSP is a degree granting academic program of the Office of Undergraduate Studies