Moyara Ruehsen, Associate Professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, recently passed her 25-year mark of employment. She overseers the Institute’s Financial Crimes Management program and is a well-respected expert in money laundering, terrorism and proliferation financing, and cyber-related financial crimes. Moyara took a few minutes from her busy schedule to share her thoughts of “Life at the Institute” over the past two and a half decades.
What did you do prior to coming to work at the Middlebury Institute and where were you located?
I was a post-doc at UC-Berkeley and an Adjunct Professor at MIIS.
What job titles have you held while working at the Middlebury Institute?
Assistant and Associate Professor
Take us back to your first year as an employee at MIIS. What were the most significant things happening in your life outside of work then?
Juggling a new baby, a new job, and new course preps! Those were crazy times. I have to give a lot of credit to Steve Baker for having enough confidence in me to hire this visibly pregnant woman with a May due date, who looked younger than her 30 years. I assured him that I would be ready to hit the ground running in August 1994, following in the footsteps of my mother, who famously took only one month off from her medical career to have both of her kids. I was true to my word. I never took any maternity leave the entire time I was at MIIS, timing both of my pregnancies to deliver in May so I would be ready to teach again by the end of August.
What are the most significant things happening in your life outside of work now (that you’d like to share)?
That “new baby” is now 25 and his younger sister is 22. They are both successfully “launched” in their lives and careers, so this mama is a happy empty nester living her best life.
Have your interests/hobbies/athletic endeavors changed over the past 25 years? Have any of these been influenced by your work at MIIS or due to your association with others who work here?
Toastmasters was a hobby I picked up in 2009 with the idea that I might want to venture into politics someday. Sitting through one too many City Council meetings and County Supervisor meetings quickly killed that inspiration, but the dedication to Toastmasters continued. I have been able to bring those interests and skills into my classroom, encouraging students to pursue and deliver multimedia projects like narrated videos, podcasts, and pecha kucha-style summary presentations.
What is your fondest memory or experience that you’ve had while working at MIIS?
That’s easy. The MIIS Follies. I’ve probably contributed in some capacity (as an actor, dancer, MC, video director, sketch director, or script writer) to between 10 to 15 productions over the years. I have tended to work behind the scenes in recent years, but it’s a labor of love that never gets old.
Many people change jobs/careers multiple times in their working life. Something must have kept you here for 25 years. Is it anything that you can put into words?
The students. MIIS draws students who have the maturity and global perspective that’s often missing in an undergraduate institution, and they have such noble motivations. I also appreciate that we are a professional school, first and foremost. We are in the business of helping students launch into exciting careers where they are making a real, positive difference in the world. I live vicariously through them and their exciting professional accomplishments.
What are your plans for the next 25 years?
Getting a new online M.S. in Financial Crime Management launched. But I’d like to think that it won’t take that long.
Do you have a favorite place on campus?
My cozy office. But being in the classroom with my students is a close second.
Is there any person on campus (or retiree, former employer) that mentored you, or you feel helped you grow into your job, grow to enjoy your work and your time at the Institute?
Steve Baker and Amy Sands were excellent bosses and mentors, who helped encourage me and guide me whenever challenges arose.
If you could give one piece of advice to a new employee at MIIS, what would it be?
Volunteer to perform at the Follies! If we can’t occasionally take time out to laugh together and at ourselves, then we’re doomed.
Anything else to add?
Thirty years ago I had the opportunity to sit down and talk for nearly an hour with the late Senator J. William Fulbright. As I got up to leave he asked, “So are you going to go out there and make a difference?” I promised him that I would try. I would like to think that training the next generation of public policy professionals and financial crime management professionals is one way of doing that.