ClubDA Scholarships

Since 2011, the Alumni Association of the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna has been awarding up to four students with ClubDA Scholarships annually. With this initiative, ClubDA members are proud to support the next generation of DA students and to make sure that they are able to receive the same excellent academic education, which our alumni themselves enjoyed and enabled them to start their successful careers.

ClubDA Scholarships are open to first-year students enrolled in the DA’s Master of Advanced International Studies (MAIS), Master of Science in Environmental Technology and International Affairs (ETIA) as well as the Diploma Programme (DLG).

ClubDA Scholarships 2019-20

Silent and observant, in the breaks between classes, you can find him in the background of Tipsy Weasel, always on the lookout, analysing. No wonder Castro Amponsah-Yeboah, already in his early days as a researcher, was the first one to identify fungal species (mycogene sp.) in dry cocoa beans in his home country Ghana. Nor is it surprising that he was hired as a field auditor for collection and analysing agronomic data on crops. He is all about perception.

Castro holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agriculture, and is currently pursuing a cooperative degree between Johns Hopkins University SAIS and the Diplomatische Akademie Wien - Vienna School of International Studies.

What brought him to Vienna? Though he enjoys the Viennese lifestyle, he came here for another reason. A good one, too. “My goal is to help improve the socio-economic conditions of the incredibly resilient, yet highly disadvantaged people in rural Ghana and Africa.”

This interest stems from him being exposed to many concerning issues while working in the poverty alleviation sector and various development programmes. It was there that he developed a particular interest in helping sensitive groups such as women, children, the physically challenged, and other voiceless people, who, in his opinion, happen to be the majority in Africa.

Before coming to Vienna, Castro was keeping himself busy. He worked with German Development Cooperation in partnership with G12. Since 2010, he has been a budget analyst of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development in Ghana. In the capacity of an assistant of the Director of Election of Sunyani Municipal Assembly in 2012 Biometric Voter Registration, he voluntarily helped enabling potential voters to be registered. An internship with the Electoral Commission of Ghana and Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, subjected him to practical cases of corruption and social and administrative injustices. This experience ignited his interest in public accountability, good governance, social justice and development.

To follow his passions, he realised he needed to acquire more practical skills. Thus, he went for an MBA graduate programme in Corporate Finance from the University of Bologna in July 2017, eventually landing in Vienna to continue his pursuits for the applicable knowledge at the DA. Here he deepens his understanding of gender and development policies in order to fulfil his goal, namely “to bring about real improvements to citizens’ lives rather than introducing more bureaucracy.”

One could easily imagine him pulling it off. Because, one thing is certain, his time is yet to come.

Ivan Pantelić, the author of this portrait, is enrolled in the DA's 24th MAIS programme.

Always busy, Ivan is an all-rounder who never sits still. Indeed, he always has a lot on his plate. During the last trimester, he directed a film, wrote several articles, managed a team of corporate writers on a daily basis, played guitar in a few performances, and still managed to attend every single lesson at the Diplomatic Academy and take all the exams.


Ivan holds a Bachelor’s of Theatre Directing and is about to obtain his Master's from the University of Applied Arts Vienna. In the past decade, he has been working as a copywriter and marketing consultant for small, medium and big businesses. In between, you could have found him in various artistic residences around the globe. Before coming to the Academy, he did quite a few things. He was a presenter and workshop maker at many political conferences worldwide, most notably in New York, Berlin, and Budapest. His art works were exhibited or screened in 4 continents. In addition, he was on the editorial board of several literary journals and has been regularly contributing to tertiary literature publications of publishers such as Springer NY.


How did he end up at the DA? That’s quite a story. He started out as a theatre director. Working as an assistant director in major theatres in Serbia and having directed several productions himself, he soon realised no stage theatre can provide a stage big enough to address the real social issues. Coming from Serbia, he has seen ramifications of wars and displacement, and over time grew ardent to contribute where he can.


His eagerness to tackle complex societal problems instead of doing art for art’s sake brought him to study Social Design at the University of Applied Arts Vienna. There he realised he still has a lot to learn to truly embetter the world. How does one move from commenting politics to participating in real decision-making processes? “In order to try and change the world, we must first understand how it works”. And to arrive at that point, he had to look for the right school. The Academy he believes to be a place which will give him both intellectual stimulus and practical know-how to see his plans through.


What does he like best about the DA? Apart from enjoying vivid discussions with bright colleagues and knowledgeable professors in a rewarding international environment, he appreciates the multidisciplinary approach in teaching. This he finds both accommodating for his Renaissance spirit, and necessary to bring about any meaningful change in the world. “To tackle complexities we are facing in our societies, multidisciplinary holistic approach is a must.” 


His only regret is the lack of time. Two years is a time too short to fully enjoy the DA: to connect with its greater network, as well as attend all those insightful courses that sometimes overlap. But he is an optimist: “ClubDA will be there to keep us together after the study time is over. And what a marvelous job they do!”


Castro Amponsah-Yeboah, the author of this portrait, is enrolled in the DA‘s 23rd MAIS programme.

What brought you to the DA and why have you chosen ETIA?

Since the beginning of my Bachelors, I aimed to study at the DA. Since high school, I have collected academic, professional and volunteering experiences in 8 countries, on 4 different continents. These experiences included volunteering in a day center for the homeless in London, as well as regional and multilateral representations in Brussels and NYC. All these experiences prepared me perfectly for the DA, and motivated me even more to study here. Sustainable Development and Environment were always my focus, and I truly believe that with the ETIA programme, the DA has established a crucial educational programme to combat the biggest issues and challenges the world will face in the near future.


What impact did the ClubDA Scholarship have on your first academic year?

The scholarship will help me finance the upcoming study trip to the Ukraine, and I will use the remaining amount for the tuitions. This helps me a lot in focusing even more on my studies and contributing to the DA social/societal activities. 


What is/are your personal highlight(s) of the Diplomatic Academy?

My personal highlight - so far - was indeed the DA ski trip. A group of around 75 people going skiing, après-ski and occupying the only “Dorfdisco” in the village was such a great and fun experience. Another highlight are my fellow friends and colleagues at the DA, who are all so unique, with such interesting backgrounds and personalities. They are truly the DA’s main assets. 


Name one experience abroad which influenced and shaped you to the person you are today?

All of my experiences abroad worked to shape me into the person I am today. To name one specifically: In 2018, I volunteered at an NGO in a village in Central India working on rural development, women empowerment and especially people suffering from the Agrarian Crisis. Living in rudimental conditions with such a colourful and interesting culture opened my mind even more and taught me to appreciate the little things in life. Helping with and working on these issues deepened my interests in Sustainable Development and Equality even more.


What are your plans after graduation and where do you see yourself in the future?

I am planning another development project during the summer after graduation somewhere in the Global South and to combine the project with travels. After that, I would like to work for an IO, the government, or an NGO, and focus on sustainable development, especially on climate change and the usage of natural resources. In the future, I would like to work in a job where I can contribute to a better, sustainable and equal future for all.


How do you prefer to spend your free time?

Friends, friends, friends. I love socialising and spending my free time with friends. Playing sports, cooking, chatting, dancing or playing games. As long as everyone is having a good time, I am happy. To balance the intense times I am dedicating for studying, I practice piano, like to draw something, or simply take my bike somewhere green to get a clear mind.


How and in which form would you want to be involved with DA’s alumni network?

The alumni network is a great possibility to stay connected with like-minded people and networking is also something I really enjoy. If my future job allows it, I would like to contribute financially to support future students with a scholarship, and I would like to become a mentor and share experiences in a career talk.


This interview was conducted by Rudolf Schatz, who is enrolled in the DA’s 24th MAIS programme.

What brought you to the DA and why have you chosen MAIS/ETIA?

Becoming a graduate student at the DA was a goal of mine since I finished high school, when I decided that I want to pursue a career at the Austrian Foreign Ministry one day. As someone who is particularly interested in both politics and history, the DA’s multidisciplinary programme was the perfect choice to develop my academic knowledge in both fields at the same time. Another important aspect for me was the prospect to be able to study and spend time with colleagues from all over the world who share the same goals and interests.


What impact did the ClubDA Scholarship have on your first academic year?

The ClubDA Scholarship was of great help to me. The main impact it had was the fact that it took the burden of financial uncertainty away, thus allowing me to focus entirely on my academic success. In addition, it allows me to join our study trips, which are an essential part of learning about and understanding events abroad.


What is/are your personal highlight(s) of the Diplomatic Academy?

After the first two terms at the DA, I already had the chance to make a lot of good memories. For me personally, I want to use my time at the DA not only for improving my academic understanding, but also especially for making long-term friendships and getting in touch with people. This is why the academy’s social events are special to me. The kick-off Weinwandertag, the Brexit-themed Halloween Party and the DA Ball were my personal highlights so far, and I hope there will be more to come.


Name one experience abroad which influenced and shaped you to the person you are today?

One influential experience abroad I made was during my time in Russia, when I had the opportunity to work for a local NGO. It was my second time in Russia, but the first time outside of Moscow, in a city called Samara. Life there was completely different, and in order to overcome the obstacles of a new life in a new country, I learned to become the positive and adaptive character I am today. Also, by becoming more outgoing, I was able to establish friendships with locals that have lasted until today.


What are your plans after graduation and where do you see yourself in the future?

After graduation, I want to take the Trans-Siberian Railway from Beijing to Moscow as a little reward to myself. After that, I will start preparing for the A-Préalable, which I hope will be in 2021. In the future, I see myself working in remote places around the globe, pursuing, and hopefully also living, my personal dream.


How do you prefer to spend your free time?

My favourite sports activity has always been playing football. This is why I play football at the Theresianum every Tuesday with my colleagues from the DA. I also enjoy going for a run and going to the gym every now and then. Nonetheless, I also enjoy “couch potato activities” like watching series or playing games with my flatmates. However, a good party with my friends is something I would not want to miss either.  


How and in which form would you want to be involved with DA’s alumni network?

Until now, I already had the chance to participate once at a DA alumni event, when we visited the House of Austrian History. Even though I am not an alumnus yet, I enjoyed the time and the event a lot. In case I will get the opportunity to work in different countries one day, I would love to join the chapter meetings and get in touch with like-minded people, sharing stories of the time at the DA and enjoying a cold beer.


This interview was conducted by Fabian Kracmar, who is enrolled in the DA’s 13th ETIA programme.