Zachary Burk ('03)

Originally published in 2012 FAIS Magazine

Years attended FAIS: Grades 2-8 (6 years) 
High School: Beaverton High School 
College: McGill University: Sciences Po/London School of Economics 
College Major/Minor: Double Major in Economics and Political Science 
Current Occupation: Journalism and Media 
Employer: Al-Monitor ( 
Job Title: Copy Editor/Sub Editor 

Did your FAIS education have an influence on your career choice or your field of study? If so, how? 

My education at FAIS was definitely influential in allowing me to make the choices that brought me to where I am today. The European-focused history and social science taught at FAIS allowed me a different perspective and a whole different set of knowledge upon entering the US high school system. I was already versed in subjects that my peers in high school had barely touched upon. This influenced my choice of social science courses in high school, where I took IB 20th Century History and European History, two key courses that helped nurture my passion for political science, my major in University. 

Furthermore, the strong mathematics program at FAIS allowed me to advance in this domain at a rapid level. Thanks to the work I had already done at FAIS/Gilkey, I finished high school in the most difficult math class possible. My interest in quantitative reasoning, birthed by certain standout teachers at FAIS, pushed me to double major in economics. 

It goes without saying that the language offerings at FAIS had the largest impact on both my choice of university and career choice. By the time I left FAIS I was fluent in three languages, which made language acquisition something natural to me. In university, I therefore went on to take both German and Arabic, and my Arabic courses led me to where I am today. I found an internship at the United Nations Development Program in Beirut. Lebanon, which I followed with a job working for a newspaper: Al-Monitor. 

How did your FAIS education prepare you for higher education and beyond? 

FAIS was integral in broadening my perspective and stirring my desire to study and work abroad. My time at FAIS had a kind of domino effect on my life. It allowed me to take more advanced courses in high school, which then undoubtedly helped me get into the university of my choice. While in Montreal at McGill University, my knowledge of French as much as English allowed me a level of ease within my environment that I otherwise would not have had. 

Are there skills you learned while at FAIS that you have applied to your career? 

I like to think that my writing skills took off during my time at Gilkey in English class. Thanks to Mr. Becker and Ms. McCandless, my writing improved drastically early on, which allowed me to progress at a more rapid rate down the road. This has allowed me to contribute in a significant way to the publication for which I currently work. 

FAIS taught me about the importance of a strong work ethic and instructed me in balancing between various responsibilities at a young age. As a result, as I continued to grow I always felt comfortable facing any number of challenges or tasks that were presented to me.

How many languages do you speak? 

Four: English, French, Spanish, Arabic. I also know a bit of German. 

What do you envision for your future? 

I will soon be leaving Beirut after a year in the Middle East. I will be undertaking a double master's diploma at Sciences-Po, in Paris, and the London School of Economics. After that, I intend to continue to work in the Middle East, and perhaps also in Europe. I intend to work in developing socially conscious solutions to problems facing developing countries. 

Please share any other information you would like. 

It is only in recent years that I realize the impact that my time at FAIS had on my life. I am ever grateful for it and would like to say hello and good luck to the Gilkey class of 2003 and all the others.