Meet Our Summer 2019 Junior Fellows: Leah James
July 2, 2019

Leah James is the Summer 2019 Development Junior Fellow. She is currently an undergraduate student at USC pursuing a dual degree in International Relations and Global Business and East Asian languages and Cultures.

Leah has lived in the Los Angeles area her entire life, growing up in Manhattan Beach and attending USC. Although she is a Californian, born and raised, she loves traveling and expanding her global knowledge. She has spent time last summer traveling throughout five different cities in China, conducting research on the effects of globalization on consumer culture. 

Leah received the Boren Scholarship, funding her future seven months abroad where she will be studying in Beijing, Shanghai, and Harbin, China, next spring. As an undergraduate student studying abroad, she looks forward to progressing her Mandarin language proficiency and understanding of Chinese culture. In the future, she hopes to pursue a future career in the federal government. 

We sat down with Leah to learn more about her passion for international affairs.


Fast Facts

Name: Leah James

Department: Development

Hometown: Manhattan Beach, CA

College/University and major: USC, B.A., International Relations and Global Business (2021) and B.A., East Asian languages and Cultures (2021)

Languages spoken: Intermediate Mandarin

Go-to source for interesting takes on what’s going on in the world: The Skimm email newsletters are my quick, go-to source for knowing what is happening around the world on a daily basis. 

Areas of interest: Chinese language and culture, U.S. national security, and relations in South East Asia and the Pacific Rim

Fun fact: I have traveled to 25 countries, and by 2021 I will have traveled to all seven continents! 

What drew you to the Pacific Council?

As I have lived in the Los Angeles are my whole life, I understand that LA is a global city and has the potential to have a large international impact. Therefore, the mission of the Pacific Council aligned perfectly with my understanding of the global city we live in. My desired career goals have me working for an international organization. I was interested to learn more and work with the Pacific Council on building the potential of the West Coast to influence international affairs. 

When did you first realize you had a passion for international affairs?

My interest in international affairs, particularly U.S. relations with China, began when I enrolled in my first Chinese language class in the seventh grade. The passion I discovered for Chinese eight years ago has motivated me to increase my language ability through years of study. When I started studying the international relations in the Pacific Rim in college, I realized that my passion was not just U.S.-China relations, but our relations in the Asia-Pacific, and even foreign affairs throughout the rest of the world. This led me to become global-minded, and develop a passion for international affairs. 

What is the most interesting thing you’ve done since starting at the Pacific Council?

I had the opportunity to attend the Global Los Angeles Summit! As an international relations student, all of the panelists were very interesting. My favorite was the information presented on soft power used through the film industry. As soft power is an important factor in international relations, but not always taken into account, it was interesting to hear how films have influenced and impacted international issues.  


The Pacific Council’s Junior Fellowship program offers students and recent graduates the unique opportunity to work alongside our staff of non-profit and foreign policy professionals. Learn more about the Junior Fellow program here

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