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University of Delaware alumnae Faith Goetzke, CAS22, is passionate about the world of foreign policy and peacebuilding. A World Scholar and Honors College student, she triple majored in Spanish, political science and psychology. While at UD, she interned at the White House and received the prestigious Robert Barrie Ulin Prize, given by the Department of Political Science to an outstanding senior in recognition of their academic accomplishments. She is one of 11 UD students and recent alumni who received a Fulbright Student Program grant this spring.
Goetzke works at the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) in Washington D.C. Funded by Congress, USIP is dedicated to building peace by linking research, policy, training, analysis and direct action to support governments and civil societies to build local capacities to manage conflicts without violence.
In this interview article, Goetzke talks about her journey, experiences and insights as a scholar dedicated to promoting peace in the global arena.
Tell us about your background. Why did you come to UD?
I grew up in the suburbs in Minnesota. Both my parents are mechanical engineers, so I don't have any kind of family background in political science or DC politics, but my older sister went to American University, and she studied international affairs.
[During a tour of UD] they mentioned the World Scholars Program and I knew that I really wanted to have that opportunity to be abroad right away. I went to Madrid in fall 2019.
While at UD I was really engaged in food security and waste issues on campus. I invested a lot of my extracurricular time with the Food Recovery Network. I also worked with the political science department, the Biden Institute and the World Scholars Program, especially the World Scholars Program. I helped bring in more students and build a community there.
You worked at the White House as part of the Biden administration’s inaugural intern class. Can you share some highlights or key takeaways?
I'm incredibly grateful for that opportunity. I don't think I can underscore it enough what a privilege it is to have the opportunity to serve in that specific area of the federal government. I learned a lot of skills and it was an incredible networking experience as well as a great deal of fun. I was there kind of near the midterms so the administration was up and running, but also was looking ahead towards a lot of transitions. It was a really dynamic, full, experience to be there.
Tell us about your role and responsibilities at the U.S Institute of Peace.
I work in the Congressional Relations and Engagement Unit at USIP. Our team liaises with Congress on what's happening internally at the institute, the regions of the world we're engaging in and the thematic issues. We bring that information to help inform Congressional members on what's happening and demonstrate our position as a part of the US government's national security infrastructure.
What are some of the challenges and opportunities in your work?
One of the benefits of the peacebuilding policy space in the US is that, by and large, no matter your political position or background, people are proponents of peace. Because of that, I think there are a lot of opportunities to talk to people about these issues and get buy-in on how we can engender peace as the US government.
However, the more that I learn and talk to people, especially those who've worked abroad, I’ve learned the idea of the American approach to peacebuilding is very uniquely American. It is not necessarily something that applies to the UN, for example, or even the EU. So how do we go about building peace? How do we invest in it? Where do we invest? When do we stop investing in something? These are all really big questions and challenges. But, I think, that the war in Ukraine has certainly opened up that discussion again, in a way that we haven't seen in a little while.
How have your UD experience and your previous roles prepared you for a career in foreign policy?
One thing I often tell my peers is that I think every role that I've had, whether it was DC or foreign policy adjacent or not, has always taught me something useful for the future. I had diverse experiences leading up to graduation, having interned at a think tank and in the federal government, being engaged on campus, and engaging one-on-one with the speakers that the Biden Institute brought in, who of course come from a really wide variety of areas and interests. They have all been important for me to be more dynamic in the way that I engage in an organization.
What advice do you have for students or young professionals who are interested in pursuing a career in foreign policy and peacebuilding?
I think that the biggest thing is to be persistent. There are a lot of pathways to DC or to the government or whatever you're looking for in this broad sphere. And because there are a lot of pathways, there are a lot of opportunities. But that also does require persistence in finding them and in finding the ones that work for you.
When I was a freshman, Sam Vinegrad, who's now an assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security was on campus virtually. This was once Covid had hit. I remember her saying that she got where she is now and that she was able to access opportunities when she was in college because she kept applying to stuff, ruthlessly.
So, keep going, keep pushing. Talking to people is really, really helpful. Have coffee with people, send emails just to learn more because it also makes you more conversational the more that you do it.
Finally, what are your future career goals or aspirations?
I'm hoping to in the next, give or take five years, enter a grad school program. I don't know whether it's for a master's or maybe a Ph.D., but I want to return to the classroom at some point to really deepen my knowledge in a way that allows me to not be responsible for a specific project or a specific output, but really to focus on developing my own thoughts on the issues of today.
I've always really enjoyed the roles where you're just in the thick of it most of the time. I think that potentially would lead me to something like the state department's foreign service. But I'm also keenly aware that's not at all the only option for engaging in foreign policy and having the opportunity to be on the ground and working in intense environments.
Because I've learned more about the U.S. government, the Washington D.C. space and the international space, I think actually my answer to this question is vaguer than it would've been a year ago because I see more doors than I did previously.
Article by Gelina Dames
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