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Finding A New Direction At Fletcher

Finding A New Direction At FletcherFormer Massachusetts legislator and current Fletcher student Paul Demakis left his life in state politics to make a difference in the developing world.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [11.29.05] During his college days, Paul Demakis had his heart set on making a name for himself in American politics, he recently recalled to The Boston Globe. With that task accomplished, the 52-year-old former Massachusetts state representative is back in the classroom – this time at The Fletcher School – preparing for his next political endeavor, which will reach far beyond the borders of the United States.

“When I was in Harvard College [as an undergraduate] I had no interest in international relations. I was an American government guy all the way,” Demakis, who received a law degree from Harvard, told the Globe. “Funny the way life evolves.”

Demakis’ life has taken a new shape since he quit politics more than a year ago and enrolled at Fletcher. After serving for more than a decade in the Massachusetts State House, Demakis decided he was ready for a change, reported the Globe.

“I found that my attitude toward the job was changing. I was getting tired of being out every night,” Demakis said. “I was starting to show the signs of burnout because I had really approached the job in a very intense way for 10 years. I think it is so important to recognize warning signs on the job as soon as they start flashing. And I did.”

Those warning signs prompted Demakis to retire from politics in April 2004 to explore other interests.

“I've always had a great curiosity about the world. But for a lot of reasons, and I kick myself for this, I did very little traveling. Then in 1992 I went to London and, you know, the genie was unleashed,” he told the Globe. “And so I started doing a lot of traveling. In 1998 I went to Asia for a month, followed by Rio de Janeiro in 1999, Uruguay in 2000, and that was when I saw that I really enjoyed traveling in the developing world.”

That fondness for the developing world led Demakis to The Fletcher School to study Law and Development and International Environment and Resource Policy. While he is currently scheduled to graduate in 2006, he may push his graduation back a year to continue the work he’s already started in Venezuela “for a nonprofit group fighting government corruption,” according to the Globe.

Although it was a financial risk to leave politics to become a student again midway through his life, Demakis told the newspaper that it was worth it.

“I decided … that the potential benefits outweigh by far the costs. So it was worth taking a chance,” Demakis said. “I am happy with my life right now. And I am having fun.”












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