By Donna Parker
Travis Mills, who received his bachelor’s degree in economics from Trinity in 2009, jumped in the game feet first, engaging with contemporary issues in Russia even before he graduated with his semester overseas in St. Petersburg. There he became a correspondent for an English language newspaper in St. Petersburg for which he interviewed newsmakers in Russian, translating back to English for print.
“Conducting research for the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in the Russian and Eurasian Program is my opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills I developed as a student at Trinity,” explains Travis.
“Here, we bridge the gap between the private sector, the government, and academia, to provide a space to exchange ideas and elevate dialogue that leads to objective and informed decision making at the policy level.”
“Right now in the Russia and Eurasia Program, we’re pulling together an extensive research portfolio on Afghanistan, which stems from a larger study on the Northern Distribution Network (NDN), a set of transit routes intended to diversify goods entering Afghanistan from the Af-Pak border. The study examines existing infrastructure and identifies the gaps preventing the transit of goods into and out of the region. While the NDN was initially created to guarantee the delivery of military goods to NATO troops in Afghanistan, there is strategic regard that these routes will later be used for commercial non-military goods, and will have a stabilizing effect for the entire region.”
“Our more recent efforts have been exclusively dedicated to Afghanistan, looking at the prospects of reestablishing Afghanistan’s traditional role as a transportation and trade hub linking Europe and the Middle East with the Indian sub-continent and all of South and Southeast Asia.”
“Our studies on infrastructure deficiencies expose the critical need for an economic strategy to be elevated in conjunction with the military presence of the U.S. to make our efforts there more comprehensive. Therefore, a strategy that embraces the expansion of transport and trade as the main engine of economic advancement will reinforce other initiatives such as: job creation, the provision of basic services, and the development of fiscal sustainability.”
“The ultimate aim is to create an infrastructure in trade and transit so that after the U.S. leaves, the region can become self-sustaining.”
Travis moved to the nation’s capital after graduation with some trepidation as he passed up a job offer in San Antonio. All he had in Washington was an internship with the CSIS, but he felt it was important to make the move to more effectively use his degree.
“There are so many young professionals in this town. Everyone is on a high trying to chase his or her dreams, and I just joined the current!”
“You do have to pay your dues in D.C., but there are so many Trinity trailblazers here who serve as sounding boards for the new ones. It’s great because this city takes networking to a whole new level. That works for me because I was a Student Ambassador at Trinity and understand the game.”
Travis, who sees Trinity friends all the time either for business or to grab a cup of coffee, says it is great to have 450+ fellow graduates in his city, providing great camaraderie and an extended family.
And he still stays in touch with his advisor, Professor Richard Butler, departments of economics and business administration, whom he absolutely adores.
“He was my great mentor and harshest critic, making him a critical person to approach for advice. Even now, when I e-mail him with a work question, he responds within the hour.”
“Of course, I can’t forget Professor Sarah Burke, department of modern languages and literatures, who was my second mom. She helped me beef up my Russian skills so that I could get into the top language program in Russia when I studied abroad.”
Trinity is ever present in Travis’ life, even when traveling to New York City on weekends to take in the sights. With friends there and in other major East Coast cities, he recognizes the impact that Trinity is making wherever he goes.
“I really want to make my dreams happen so I’m putting myself out there – and that’s something I also learned at Trinity. Even things such as teamwork skills that I acquired as a member of the diving team have translated into my professional life.”
Travis, who describes himself as genuine, passionate, and determined to reach his goals, says Trinity has played a major role in his preparation.
“Trinity is everywhere. It’s a small liberal arts school with impact all over the world.”
You may contact Travis at TravisLMills@gmail.com.
After reading this story if you feel strongly about any Trinity alumni who the Alumni Office should profile in future AlumNet issues, please submit your suggestions. We are looking for suggestions in these four categories: 1) recent grads, 2) grads who innovate, 3) grads in business, and 4) grads who serve the world. Feel free to nominate yourself if you fall in these categories. -- AlumNet Moderator