Alumni CLASnotes Spring 2006
In This Issue:

CLAS Act

Thy M. Nguyen (B.A., Political Science, 2001)

Thy M. Nguyen
Thy M. Nguyen
Thy M. Nguyen is arguably one of the University of Florida’s most successful young alumni. Graduating a mere seven years ago, she has earned an M.A. in strategic studies and international economics from Johns Hopkins University, and landed a job as a Foreign Affairs Officer in the Bureau for International Security and Nonproliferation. In between assignments in Austria, Vietnam, China, and Japan, she debriefed Alumni CLASnotes on her life at the U.S. State Department.

ACn: What does an average day look like for you?

TN: A typical day starts off with checking diplomatic reporting that has come in overnight from around the world concerning the key countries and issues I cover. Then I check to see whether I have been assigned to draft any briefing materials for my bureau leadership or department principals to prepare them for meetings, hearings, and high-level visits. Generally this includes briefing papers, press guidance, presentations and the like. If there is some kind of crisis—such as when North Korea tested a nuclear device in October 2006—then the pace and scope of work can increase exponentially, and that’s when you reacquaint yourself with what it was like to pull an all-nighter in college.

ACn: How did CLAS prepare you for a career in public service?

TN: During my freshman year, I took a course with Dr. Leann Brown, who taught the Introduction to International Relations course that really piqued my interest in international relations. I also took a course with Dr. Richard Nolan on U.S. Foreign Policy, and the lectures and discussions we had on the Cold War in particular were the first time I really had a sense of American politics and policy in a global context. You learn these things in one form or another in high school, but my sense of awareness of, and appreciation for, the art of diplomacy and leadership and the impact it had on world history didn’t really happen until my studies in CLAS.

ACn: What advice would you give a student wishing to follow in your footsteps?

TN: If you want to be involved in U.S. diplomacy, I think it’s very helpful to have a solid grasp on U.S. and world history, international affairs, international economics, and at least one foreign society or culture. Most people who work in a policy capacity at the State Department have lived or worked overseas. But you know, there’s nothing that says there’s only one right way to get into foreign policy or, more broadly, international relations work. As long as you’re learning, having fun, and have a sense of what you want your next step to be, you’ll be in good shape, whatever career you choose.

—Buffy Lockette

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