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Women in Diplomacy  

This reflection is told from the voice of Alyssa Tolentino, junior Diplomacy and International Relations student, originally from Woodbridge, NJ. Alyssa is currently double majoring in Diplomacy and International Relations and Modern Languages, while pursuing a minor in Economics. "This semester," she says, "I have had the pleasure of joining the Women in Diplomacy Leadership Program (WDLP), which prides itself on creating a supportive environment for women pursuing careers in international relations and opening doors in this field for its members." She recounts below a recent experience with the WDLP that left an impression on her.

Women in DiplomacyOn Friday, November 1, students of the Women in Diplomacy Leadership Program embarked on an incredible networking opportunity to meet with top level professional women in every sector of the diplomacy field, including non-profit, private, and public organizations in New York City. 

The day began at UNICEF-USA, an organization that works for the survival, protection, and development of children worldwide through advocacy, education, and fundraising for UNICEF's work. Its President and CEO, Caryl M. Stern, was kind enough to not only slate an hour of her busy schedule to meet with our women for breakfast, but to meet with us on her last day at UNICEF-USA before becoming executive director of the Walton Family Foundation. After twelve years of her leadership, UNICEF-USA has more than doubled its fundraising revenue. What was most inspiring, though, was hearing her stories from the forefront of activism. It was clear that Stern has dedicated her career towards being a force for positive change. Her optimism for our generation's commitment and ability to foster change was an amazing reminder of why we have chosen to pursue careers in diplomacy.

Our women then traveled to the Empire State Building to visit two alumnae of the School of Diplomacy who now work for the Human Rights Foundation: Chloe Whitewater '18 and Malaak Jamal '15. The Human Rights Foundation is a non-profit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally by partnering with world-changing activists to create innovative solutions against tyranny. It was easy to connect with Chloe and Malaak, and they were candid in answering questions about life after graduation. Both women had interned at the Human Rights Foundation during their time at Seton Hall, so their advice on how to stand out while interning was especially invaluable. 

Diplomacy WomenOur next host was Gillian Sorensen, whose career began when she worked on New York City Mayor Edward I. Koch's election campaign. When he assumed office, she respectfully asked and made a case for how she could be useful to him and the city as the New York City Commissioner for the United Nations and Consular Corps. This began her tenure working with and for the United Nations, eventually leading her to be appointed as Assistant Secretary-General for External Relations under Secretaries General Kofi Annan and Boutros Boutros-Ghali. Ms. Sorensen was an incredible example of women pursuing competitive professional opportunities, and her advice on conducting yourself as a woman in diplomacy, commanding attention through public speaking, will not be forgotten as we work to engage in these opportunities ourselves. 

Our next host was a familiar face for some of our students. We were given a tour of the New York City Bar Association with Dr. Catherine Tinker, an international lawyer, Center Fellow and faculty member at the School of Diplomacy. This visit was particularly powerful for the women in attendance who are hoping to pursue law degrees after graduation. In addition to being an international lawyer, Tinker is also the founder and President of the Tinker Institute on International Law and Organizations. Her experiences showed us how international law is growing in importance on the international stage.

Our final stop led us to the private sector and UBS, a Swiss multinational investment bank and financial services firm. There we met Diplomacy graduate Lejla Radoncic, who, after years in investigative journalism, is now a financial crime compliance analyst for UBS. These are two fields of international relations that many of us were not familiar with. Hearing Lejla's experiences and advice for navigating the many paths of international affairs was enlightening for us, and especially helpful to those preparing for graduation. 

A common theme of the day was the sentiment that "life happens." Dr. Stern shared with us one of her favorite quotes, "Man plans, and God laughs." Many of our speakers could never have imagined that they would be where they are today, but all the women agreed that they love where their careers have taken them. It is important to remember, though, that their success could only have been achieved through hard work. We are grateful for all that these women have done and will continue to do in their fields. We are humbled and inspired to follow in their footsteps.

WDLP President, Seva Tsivgas reflected, "Our New York City visits were planned to inspire, motivate, and open doors for our members, and I am so proud to say that we were able to accomplish all of that and more."

"In every meeting," she continued, "our members were professional and insightful. They connected and networked with our speakers as well as other staff at the organizations we visited, and members have been sharing with me that they were able to learn key insights about their target careers. I am so proud to have provided these opportunities to my members and I hope to continue organizing excellent events throughout the rest of the year."

Stay up to date on future WDLP events and opportunities by contacting, or following the WDLP on Instagram at @shuwomenofdiplomacy.

Categories: Campus Life , Nation and World

For more information, please contact:

  • Elizabeth Halpin
  • (973) 275-2515
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