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