Julia Batavick is a Gender and Global Security Program Assistant at Women in International Security Global. She is currently pursuing a double major in English and Politics, with a concentration in Global Politics at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. As an avid reader, Julia knew that she had to incorporate English and literature into her college education, and her passion for making the world a better place steered her into the path of politics.
Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, Julia honed her passion for public service by taking full advantage of her high school experience. She was a part of the Towson High School Law and Public Policy (LPP) Magnet Program and helped found and lead the LPP Executive Committee, believing that she was best suited to do public service through law. However, when she joined Model United Nations, she discovered her enthusiasm for foreign affairs and realized that she wanted to serve others in an international context. She became president of the Towson High Model UN team her senior year.
Julia was also drawn to musical theater in high school. As a trained singer, she performed in numerous productions including High School Musical and Hairspray. Being a Baltimore native, she has a special connection to Hairspray’s original movie director, Baltimore-born John Waters. Although she greatly enjoyed being a member of all-county and all-state choir, she chose not to pursue a musical career in favor of a career in public service.
Julia’s developing interest in the rest of the world intensified her need to travel; she had only explored the United States growing up, through a series of road trips with her family. Attending Washington and Lee University as a Johnson Scholar has provided Julia not only with a full ride to school, but the opportunity to have a summer stipend for traveling abroad during her studies. Her first overseas adventure started in London, where she spent two weeks before continuing on to Cape Town, South Africa for several months. She intends on returning to the UK during the 2020-2021 school year to further her studies and to gain another immersive international experience by studying at Oxford University.
Although Julia’s trip to Cape Town included two herniated disks, she was able to make the most of her stay. She even established herself as a regular at a local coffee shop/bookstore hybrid, The Book Lounge, where she routinely enjoyed a chai latte and “anything cinnamon” from the pastry display case. Her time in Cape Town also reinforced her passion for human rights. The lingering consequences of Apartheid deepened Julia’s understanding of the structural inequality and the lasting socioeconomic impact of racist and patriarchal political structures that exist throughout the world. In Cape Town, she took a class that focused on contemporary South African politics that sparked her interest in the complexities of transitional justice. Julia was also able to work at a nonprofit organization that creates sustainable employment for Cape Town’s homeless population, thus she became increasingly aware of the difference she can make through outreach and further studying global politics.
In addition to her time and experience overseas, Julia has been able to make a difference on campus too. She is a leader of a campus advocacy group, SPEAK, that raises awareness of sexual assault in college communities. She has organized events like the “Stand Up and SPEAK Out” concert and has led a candlelight vigil, “Take Back the Night.” Julia actively participates in W&L’s Mock Convention as well, which simulates the nomination process of the political party out of power. She was selected for a coveted spot to direct a team of 24 delegates to predict the Democratic nominee for the 2020 New Jersey primary. Their jobs included extensive background research and coordination – they even had to build a campaign float.
Along with the critical thinking and analytical skills her English major has provided her, Julia has been able to apply her study of women’s literary criticism to her approach on policy making. Through her classes and experiences, Julia learned how society has shaped female archetypes for thousands of years and that these archaic perceptions of women are still alive and well today. She intends to rewrite that narrative. She believes that women have a valuable and necessary role in policy making, and she continually advocates for a feminist approach to conflict resolution and foreign policy. Julia hopes to pursue a career in U.S foreign policy with a focus on sexual and gender-based violence and global conflict.
While at WIIS, she is developing a summer film series, as well as authoring a blog on the use of gendered language in the media and the prevalence of domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic. Julia is also working on the organization and execution of the WIIS’ Policy Roundtable Event Series in partnership with the Embassy of Liechtenstein. She is very excited to be a part of the WIIS Global team!