Grad Uses KU Edwards Master’s Degree to Find Global Energy Solutions

olga khalova

Olga Khakova leveraged her Master's degree to land a job with an international
think tank and public policy group, The Atlantic Council. 

Whether she was looking for ways the United States and European Union could collaborate on energy security or helping to expand opportunities for Kansas businesses to access clean energy sources, KU Edwards Campus (KUEC) graduate Olga Khakova began using her Professional Science Master’s in Environmental Assessment degree before she even received her diploma last May.

During her time at KUEC, Khakova helped develop the Clean Energy Business Council at the Climate + Energy Project, a Kansas-based, non-partisan, nonprofit organization working to find practical solutions for a clean energy future. She discovered her current job as associate director for European Energy Security at The Atlantic Council – a non-partisan think tank and public policy group based in Washington, D.C. –  while working on her capstone project. Khakova credits KUEC with helping her land a job in her chosen profession.

“The master’s degree is essential for succeeding in my field,” Khakova said. “The degree opened employment opportunities that otherwise would have not been available.”

The professional degree, supported by the Johnson County Education Research Triangle (JCERT), offers online, on-site and hybrid course formats geared toward science and technology professionals who are interested in environmental issues. It combines physical and natural science with project management and communication training to help students develop skills to accurately collect and clearly communicate data and successfully lead teams.

“The science components of the program gave me the background to break down complex information into formats accessible to the greater public,” Khakova said. “I like how interdisciplinary the degree is because it reflects the realities of today’s jobs that require diverse skills to succeed. My day could consist of putting together a budget, planning an event, writing a brief or moderating a panel.”

Globally recognized KU professors were a big part of Khakova’s success.

“The diverse group of professors have different teaching methods and views on the world,” she said. “I have been challenged by the coursework in general. I was taught how to grasp challenging concepts and theories. I believe this helped to me to have a better understanding of my world and the community around me.”

Khakova believes she is now ready to spend her career tackling energy and environmental trends that are important to today’s world, including climate change, digitalization, electrification, population growth, geopolitical conflicts and cybersecurity threats.

“I am passionate about convening people through public engagement, policy work or corporate leadership to find and implement solutions and I hope to continue doing that,” she said.

For other students considering an environmental assessment master’s degree, Khakova encourages them to talk to industry professionals and graduates of the program, to push their limits and to embrace the idea of having multiple careers.

“Don’t limit your goals and aspirations,” she advised. “You are capable of so much more than you think.”

Learn more about the Professional Science Master’s in Environmental Assessment from KUEC.