Alum returns to discuss life as a diplomat

Julie A. Eadeh has lived in more countries than many people have lived in houses – Saudi Arabia, Iraq, China and Qatar to name a few. Her journey through life has roots to Eastern Michigan University, where she received her degree in history. On Monday, she came back to EMU to talk to students about possibly following her career path as a diplomat for the United States of America in the Department of State.

“Eastern gave me the confidence to go out and explore the world,” Eadeh said. “My teachers and professors here said ‘go out and see the world…’ Eastern gave me that confidence.”

Eadeh went on from EMU to Georgetown to earn her graduate degree. After studying at Georgetown, she applied to the State Department and was hired as a Foreign Service officer.

The U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Service officers have five career paths to choose from:

• Consular affairs

• Economic affairs

• Management affairs

• Political affairs

• Public diplomacy

Each path offers unique challenges and rewards, but there is always one constant: travel.

A Foreign Service officer must be available worldwide and there are strict constraints on how much time can be spent at home and how much must be spent abroad. Each term overseas is 3 years in length. After an overseas term, an FSO can apply for a new position at any of the posts around the world.

Applying for a particular country does not mean that an applicant will be assigned there. Ultimately, the State Department decides where an FSO will work.

EMU junior Trevis Harrold interned for the Department of State last summer in Kosovo. He wanted to make sure he took advantage of hearing Eadeh’s advice on a life in the Foreign Service by attending the event.

“I am committed to the foreign service 100 percent,” Harrold said. “This is a lifestyle I am going to chase for awhile. I want to do anything that will put me above or give me an advantage [over other applicants]. Being able to use Eastern Michigan University’s resources will give me [tools] to compete against different people from different universities to get this job.”

Eadeh praised some of the work policy changes the Department of State has made over the years.

She said the Department of the State really takes your family situation into account when assigning you to a new post. In previous years, that was not always the case. Eadeh’s husband is also an FSO, and the Department of the State has arranged for them to work the same posts together.

The constant travel and uncertainty of where you may live and work make the FSO lifestyle hard for some. According to Eadeh FSO’s have a yearly attrition rate of around 5 percent.

Graduate student Tabatha LM Keller attended the conference for intellectual reasons rather than professional ones.

“It is interesting to me,” Keller said. “I am studying American foreign policy during World War II and the beginning of the Cold War. I wanted a perspective of where it is going now since I deal with conflict records from that time period.”

Though the life of FSO is not for everyone, it clearly was for Eadeh.

“I have loved every minute of it,” Eadeh said. “I think that Foreign Service is one of the best careers out there. You get to meet people, learn languages and travel. You get to see how other people live. Keep your mind open because sometimes the best opportunities are where you least expect them.”

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