#ElliottProud: Kate Schilling

Kate Schilling is a Foreign Service Officer with the Department of State, currently serving in the Educational and Cultural Affairs bureau. She previously served as a Press officer in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, covering Russia and Eastern Europe. Kate has also served overseas in Mexico and Bogota, Colombia. She graduated from the Elliott School in 2012 with a degree in Security Policy Studies. Kate previously worked for the American Red Cross in disaster services, including one month in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake. Kate also served in the Marine Corps, with two deployments to Iraq. 

Describe your current position and what have you learned since being in the position

I work at the Department of State, in the Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) bureau. I’ve learned about the wide range of programs offered by ECA around the world, including opportunities for youth, study abroad and culinary diplomacy. Starting in March of this year, I also learned a lot about repatriating thousands of exchange students back to their home countries as COVID became a worldwide pandemic. Previously, I’ve worked in the European and Eurasian Bureau (EUR) in the press office, as well as overseas tours in Colombia and Mexico.

What professional organization, websites, or events would you recommend for students interested in your field, and why?  

For those interested in foreign affairs generally, there are some standard publications, such as Foreign Affairs and major newspapers. For a specific country or theme (security, education, economics, etc), I would recommend issue-specific publications, including foreign-language newspapers in that country. I also recommend following the House and Senate Foreign Affairs committees to give yourself insight into “What is DC focused on?”  You can find lively voices and breaking information for any issues on Twitter. I use Twitter to triangulate what is going on in your area of interest. 

What was your favorite Elliott School course and why? 

Security and Development, as I got to meet colleagues from concentrations that I would not have encountered otherwise. I made a lasting friendship in that class with a student from the International Development program. Since graduating, we have traveled in Mexico and Thailand together and she’s one of my closest friends.

What part of your career do you find most challenging and how do you stay motivated? 

What I find the most challenging is what I also enjoy the most: the chance to change your job and location every two to three years. The Foreign Service rotates officers to Posts around the world and you are expected to slot into a new position and perform. I always enjoy learning new things, meeting new people and building skills. However, it can be a challenge to adapt to a new place. 

If you could be safely quarantined anywhere in the world, where would you want to be and why? 

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. It has a great beach with great views, beautiful old town and amazing food. 


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The #ElliottProud profile series is managed by the Elliott School Office of Graduate Admissions and highlights graduate program alumni to answer common questions posed by prospective, incoming, and current students. For more information on this series or to submit questions, e-mail the Office of Graduate Admissions at esiagrad@gwu.edu.

The views expressed by students profiled do not necessarily represent those of organizations they work for, are affiliated with, or the Elliott School of International Affairs.