News & Events

Journey to the Foreign Service
Seton Hall > News & Events 

StephanieWorldMapWhitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations Master of Arts student, Stephanie Parenti, recently published an op-ed in The Globalized World Post, an up-and-coming international relations blog, discussing alignment politics in the former Soviet Union. This accomplishment marks one of many milestones on her journey to the Foreign Service.

"The Islamic phobia that grew in the world after 9/11 piqued my interest," says Parenti. "I was twelve years old when it happened. My step-father at the time was an Israeli pilot who lived in New York. We couldn't get a hold of him and that scared my mother and (me)."

The fear of losing her step-father in the tragedy was short lived when she received a call from him that evening, but living in a state of fear seemed ongoing for many other Americans says Parenti.

The shift in attitude towards foreigners, particularly Middle Easterners, raised curiosity to learn more about why people responded negatively and furthermore the nature of peace studies.

As a student at the Community College in Pasco-Hernado, Florida, Parenti volunteered for Amnesty International as well as other activist initiatives to end Darfur. She was largely involved in her local community to bring awareness to human rights violations.

After a year, Parenti transferred to Valencia Community College in Orlando, where she received her Associate of Arts degree, and then transferred to a Bachelors of Arts program at the University of Central Florida.

Her involvement in the community lessened when she was accepted into the Ronald McNair Post-Baccalaureate Program at the university.

Foreign Service"There was a change from a more liberal environment at the community college to a practical theoretical viewpoint at Central Florida," says Parenti. "The McNair program largely emphasized the importance of research. In fact, my research exchange trip to Croatia through the program totally switched my focus."

For a month, Parenti, along with fellow students, lived in the town of Varazdin, learning the culture and history of the country and exchanging research with the students there.

"They are the nicest, (most) selfless people I've ever met," says Parenti, smiling in awe. "When we were leaving, they gave us bags filled with goodies to take back to our friends."

The hospitality in Croatia added to her curiosity. She wanted to know why people in that part of the world were so welcoming and giving. This turned her focus to the study of Eastern Europe.

While her goal to understand relational dynamics in the world did not waver, her approach, away from that of an activist to that of a practitioner, did.

This tactic helped her obtain the Thomas R. Pickering Fellowship, which landed her an opportunity to attend graduate school at Seton Hall University. Through the fellowship program which provides funding to participants as they are prepared academically and professionally to enter the United States Department of State Foreign Service, Parenti specialized in Eastern European foreign policy, international security, and international organizations.

"When I heard about the fellowship, I jumped (up) on both feet," says Parenti. "Career advancement is a never ending process. There is always work to be done."

Post-graduation, Parenti plans to work in Public Diplomacy in the U.S. Foreign Service. Parenti has been selected and will begin training this September to be a U.S. Foreign Service Officer.

She also hopes to one day write for various news platforms. In fact, she has worked with the the Seton Hall radio station, WSOU's Global Current radio program as an analysis writer for the past two years. She has also served as an associate editor for the student run and edited scholarly journal, the Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations. Both experiences have given her practical experience in the discipline of research and writing.

In addition to her public service and journalistic ambitions, she aspires to one day obtain a Ph.D. and teach in her field, encouraging students to write, research, and contribute to the body of knowledge, and credits her inspiration to the many professors who have helped her along her journey.

"I couldn't have completed my op-ed without the help of Dr. Edwards," says Parenti. "He kept me from hitting a lot of dead ends. I only hope to do the same for students in the future."

Dr. Edwards, whose expertise includes International Organizations and International Political Economy, not only aided Parenti throughout her research, but helped to successfully pitch her op-ed to The Global World Post.

For more information please contact:
Elizabeth Halpin
(973) 275-2560


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