Diplomatic Ties

Youssef Elkei '13

Youssef Elkei ’13

A United States diplomat in training, Youssef Elkei ’13 loves the thought of being able to change the world and make history—or at least be a part of the team that makes historic moments happen.

Last year, Elkei was named a 2015 Thomas R. Pickering Graduate Foreign Affairs Fellow by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. He was one of just 20 students nationwide to receive the highly competitive fellowship administered by the U.S. Department of State. Graduate fellows receive financial support toward a two-year, full-time master’s degree program in a field related to international affairs and diplomacy at one of nearly a dozen institutions nationwide.

Elkei just completed his first year as a graduate student at Georgetown University and has secured an internship at the U.S. Secretary of State’s Operations Center this summer. As part of the program at the School of Foreign Service, he will also complete an internship overseas and be placed in the Foreign Service immediately following graduation. So far he has found that networking with others in the program has been just as important as studying and writing papers.

Youssef Elkei 13 recently returned to campus to talk to a political science class.

Youssef Elkei 13 recently returned to campus to talk to a political science class.

“The academic side of it is fantastic,” Elkei said. “It’s a lot of fun and it’s important, but the true value of grad school is who you meet, who you get to know, and getting your name out there to those people who will be your professional peers along the way.”

Elkei credits Randolph for instilling in him a sense of entrepreneurship and innovative thinking skills. A global studies major, his focus at Randolph was on international peace and cooperation. As a senior, he orchestrated a crisis simulation for Randolph students that incorporated—and taught others to use—appropriate technology that expanded students’ diplomatic toolboxes and enabled them to engage in increasingly intense levels of negotiation. In addition, he was a member of the College’s Model United Nations team and spent a semester studying abroad at Randolph’s program in Reading, England.

Political science professor Jennifer Dugan, Elkei’s academic advisor at Randolph, was especially impressed by his senior paper, “Oil Wealth and Development: A Model for Predicting Sociopolitical Advancement in the Middle East.” For the project, Elkei analyzed the effects of variables, including the nature of political and social institutions, on the sociopolitical advancement in selected countries.

“Youssef is passionate, wellspoken, and thoughtful about his intellectual interests, and he can communicate his ideas and positions well,” Dugan said. “It means the world to me to see him enjoy so much success. It’s especially satisfying to see a student like Youssef starting out at the College and evolving by his senior year into an advanced student and having what it takes to be successful in graduate school.”

Elkei chose to attend Georgetown because, much like Randolph, its small classes afford individualized attention for each student and there is a strong sense of community. The small classes have also helped him emerge as a leader, and he knows those leadership skills will be essential when he represents the United States overseas.

“The lifestyle is incredible,” he said. “You get to travel to a different country every two years, and you’re a representation of the rest of the United States. People look at you and think they’re basically talking to the U.S. government, so it comes with a certain level of caution but also respect.”

One of the many other perks in his career is that the work is never dull. He enjoys keeping tabs on the ever-changing world as well as learning the politics, cultures, and histories of every nation.

“The United States has an unmatched impact on international affairs,” he said. “We are the world’s major power, and our impact in the Middle East and Europe touches so many people’s lives in every single aspect of security, economics, and more. I want to be a part of that. I want to use the United States’ potential for good in the world and move that forward.”