Blending East Asian Studies, Political Science

Oct. 16, 2015

Mary Wildner-Bassett, dean of the University of Arizona's College of Humanities, says high school students often ask: What can we do with a humanities major?

"I would invite them to speak with Brandy Christian," she says.

At the UA, Christian majored in East Asian studies and political science with an eye to a career in the foreign service. She had a special interest in American-Chinese relations and studied abroad in Beijing.

After graduation, Christian worked as a management consultant to public agencies on information systems. In 2000, she joined the Port of San Diego knowing "very little about seaports, but knowing that I wanted to grow as a public administrator."  During her 15 years there, Christian rose to vice president of strategy and business development at the fifth-busiest port on the Pacific coast.

This year, Christian became the chief operating officer of the Port of New Orleans, overseeing all operational and administrative functions for the sixth-largest port in North America.

While her career path has not been what she envisioned while she was at the UA, Christian says that she utilizes skills and knowledge from both of her majors: her political science studies provided her with foundational skills as a public manager, while Asian studies gave her cultural knowledge and an awareness of context.

For her achievements, which exemplify the potential of a humanities degree, the College of Humanities named Christian its 2015 Alumna of the Year.

The UA Alumni Association will honor all recipients of the 2015 Alumni of the Year Awards during an Oct. 23 event to be held 3-5 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom of the Student Union Memorial Center. For more information, contact the Alumni Association at 520-621-7576.