Nicole Suveges—December 2008 Shipment Honoree
Johns Hopkins Grad Student Killed
Mike Schuh reports Nicole Suveges was doing double duty.
The Johns Hopkins University campus first got a look at Nicole Suveges when she enrolled in 2000 as a grad student.
“She was just an outstanding person,” said Hopkins professor Matthew Crenson. “And from the very beginning, she was interested in the Middle East.”
But once the war in Iraq began, she changed her area of study. She wanted to know how the transition to democracy affected ordinary citizens. That’s what she was doing in Baghdad when she was killed.
It was Tuesday in Sadr City. A bomber blew up some government offices. Suveges and 10 others died. She was there helping the troops understand Iraqis.
The company says, “She came to us to freely give of herself in an effort to make a better world. A leading academic, she believed in translating what she learned into action.”
And she followed action. This was her second tour of Iraq as a civilian. The first was in 2006.
A decade ago she was an army reservist in Sarajevo.
“Well, she took a lot of chances,” said Crenson.
The young woman was known to be brave, and now she is sadly missed.
Crenson fondly remembers Suveges as a natural-born leader, someone who, despite her own workload, would organize parties and gatherings. She was a magnet to other students.
Suveges is originally from the Chicago, Ill. area. There’s no word yet on funeral arrangements.
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Johns Hopkins Grad Student Dies in Iraq
University Stunned After Baghdad BlastBy Ovetta Wiggins
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 27, 2008; Page B03
Nicole Suveges was not the type of woman to back away from controversy.
So when Laura Locker learned that her friend, a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University, had joined the Army’s Human Terrain System, a program that embeds social scientists within military units, Locker said she was not surprised.
But friends and faculty members at Hopkins were stunned this week when they learned that Suveges, 38, was among four Americans killed in an explosion Tuesday in the District Council building in the Sadr City section of Baghdad.
“Two hours ago, I thought she was fine and I thought she was going to come back and defend her dissertation,” Mark Blyth, an associate professor of political science and Suveges’s primary faculty adviser said in a statement. “She was a very bright, engaging, sweet person, very intellectually curious.”
Political science professor Matthew Crenson, who was the director of graduate studies the year Suveges was admitted to Hopkins about eight years ago, described her as an “unusual student,” who brought a wealth of experience to the department.
In the 1990s, as a U.S. Army reservist, Suveges served in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina.
In 2006, Suveges spent a year in Iraq as a civilian contractor and social science adviser to the military. She returned from that tour, Blyth said, with data to analyze for her dissertation on “Markets & Mullahs: Global Networks, Transnational Ideas and the Deep Play of Political Culture.” During her most recent tour, which began in April, Suveges was employed by Rockville-based BAE Systems, a contractor.
“She came to us to give freely of herself in an effort to make a better world,” said Doug Belair, president of BAE System’s Technology Solutions and Services line of business, in a statement. “Nicole was a leading academic who studied for years on how to improve conditions for others.”
Suveges expected that this tour in Iraq would provide the final data she needed to finish her dissertation. She received a master of arts degree in international affairs from George Washington University in 1998. She grew up in Illinois and graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1992.
Blyth said that after the war in Iraq began, Suveges decided she wanted her research to focus on the transition from an authoritarian government to democracy, and the impact on ordinary citizens.
Locker said Suveges had two sides to her personality. There was the “tough Army woman,” and the “total sweetheart” who would do anything for anybody.
Locker said yesterday that Suveges was the type of person who could win people over.
“When I first met her, I was sure I wasn’t going to like her,” Locker said. “She was an Army woman, and she was Republican, very outspoken. I’m a diehard Democrat.”
Locker, who worked with Suveges when they were teaching assistants in 2003, said it was Suveges’s tenacity that won her over. Or maybe it was her love for dogs, the way she was willing to cook meals for a classmate she had never met because the woman’s father had passed away, or how unafraid she was to speak her mind.
“She was a conservative person in a liberal department,” Locker said. “She brought a much-needed perspective to our department . . .
“The fact that she was one of my only Republican friends says a lot,” Locker said. “I adored her.”
American Grad Student Dies in Iraq
(CNN) — An American graduate student who went to Iraq to find ways to help ordinary citizens persevere in a transitioning government was one of two American civilians killed in a Sadr City bombing.
Nicole Suveges, a married political scientist from Illinois, was part of a program that embeds academics into military units to help personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan navigate the local environment, according to her employer, BAE Systems.
Suveges, who started her tour with Human Terrain System in April, had been assigned to support the 3rd Brigade Combat Team for the 4th Infantry Division in “political, cultural, and tribal engagements,” a statement from the program said.
She was one of four Americans to die in the Sadr City bombing Tuesday. Two U.S. soldiers and a State Department employee, Steven Farley, who worked with the provincial reconstruction team, also were killed in the blast.
“Nicole was a leading academic who studied for years on how to improve conditions for others,” Doug Belair, president of BAE’s Technology Solutions & Services, said in a written statement. “She came to us to give freely of herself in an effort to make a better world.”
Suveges was the second BAE employee to die in a combat zone this year. Michael V. Bhatia, 31, a social scientist from Medway, Massachusetts, died in a roadside bombing May 7 in Afghanistan, BAE said.
Scott Fazekas, BAE’s director of communications, said Suveges and Bhatia were among three dozen social scientists hired by the company and its subcontractors to support the program.
The Johns Hopkins University graduate student was also working toward a doctorate in political science with an emphasis on international relations. The focus of her dissertation was on the transition from an authoritarian regime to democracy and how it affects ordinary citizens, the university said.
“Nicole was committed to using her learning and experience to make the world a better place, especially for people who have suffered through war and conflict,” William R. Brody, president of the university, said in a message Wednesday to the campus community. “She exemplifies all that we seek to do at Johns Hopkins: to use knowledge for the good of humanity.”
Mark Blyth, Suveges’ primary faculty adviser, said that when Suveges came to Johns Hopkins, she planned to write her Ph.D. dissertation on how ideas move across borders from society to society, exploring how radical Islamic ideas filtered through Western European mosques.
After the outbreak of the Iraq war, Suveges decided to shift her focus to the experience of ordinary citizens under a transitional government, said Blyth, a topic that had interested Suveges since her experience in Bosnia with the SFOR/NATO Combined Joint Psychological Operations Task Force.
“She was a very bright, engaging, sweet person, very intellectually curious,” Blyth said Wednesday.
BAE said Suveges’ experience, which included a tour in Iraq as a civilian contractor and a stint in Bosnia in the 1990s as an Army reservist, made her especially valuable in efforts to improve the lives of Iraqis.
A Human Terrain System statement said Suveges and others were attending a meeting of the District Advisory Council on Tuesday to elect a new chairman.
The officials were helping mediate disputes among the Sadr City leadership and “facilitate the development of a more representative local government,” the statement said.
The attack was blamed on a Shiite insurgent cell.
Suveges graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1992 and received a master’s degree in political science from George Washington University in 1998.
She had delivered papers to international relations organizations and served as a graduate teaching assistant, the company said.
At Johns Hopkins, she was managing editor for the Review of International Political Economy, the university said.
Maj. Mike Kenfield, spokesman for the Army’s training and doctrine command, said that the program was credited for “reductions in non-lethal operations” and that there had been talk about expanding the purview of the team to outside Iraq and Afghanistan.
CNN’s Joe Sterling contributed to this report