Keeping Up With: Ioana Sirca-Belintan

Ioana Sirca-Belintan graduated with a double major in international relations and politics in 2011 and earned honors in both majors with her two-credit senior thesis titled “The Development of Civil Society in Post-Communist Romania.”

After working in Chicago for a year, this past fall she enrolled in a master’s degree program in democracy and democratization at the London School of Economics and Politics (LSE), in London, England.  Now in her second semester at LSE, Ioana and taking four courses: Eastern European politics, democratic development in Latin America, local power and decentralization, and post-totalitarianism. Last semester, she took a double-credit course on comparative politics and research methodology, which she writes, “sucked the life out of me.”  She quite enjoyed her other course, however, Comparative Democratization in a Global Age, which focused on the different stages of democratization: revolution/civil war/conflict, transition, consolidation.  She’ll begin writing her 30,000-word master’s thesis this summer. 

In addition to her graduate studies, Ioana is volunteering at a London-based non-governmental organization called the Prince’s Regeneration Trust, where she is doing research, helping to write grant applications, and learning the ins and outs of project management. A charity founded by Prince Charles, the Prince’s Trust is involved in the historic renovation of old buildings and heritage regeneration. “It’s actually pretty cool,” she writes.  “There are all sorts of projects, ranging from old churches and castles to factories, potteries and printing presses from the period of the Industrial Revolution.”

An expensive place to live, London is a word-class city where there are plenty of things to do, she says.  Thanks to a grant she received from the Grace Groner Foundation, Ioana is able to live in Central London in a nice neighborhood that is close to museums, the Tube, and the LSE campus.