This Master of Science in Foreign Service Alumni Spotlight series shines a spotlight on our incredible MSFS alumni. These professionals share a common MSFS degree and are leaders in many different careers. They reflect on their time at Georgetown, discuss how they have used their degree to excel in their positions, and share their advice for future alums. Our featured alumnus today is Gabe Gough, MSFS ‘11.
Mr. Gough serves as Director of Intergovernmental Affairs at the Department of Veterans Affairs. He oversees gubernatorial, municipal and international affairs. As an Army veteran, he is most proud of having an impact on millions of fellow veterans every day. He has helped work with the First Lady’s Office as well as with mayors and governors throughout the country on reducing veteran homelessness by 50%, totaling 480,000 veterans.
When making his decision to come to Georgetown, Gough shadowed a second year MSFS student. “What impressed me most were the small class sizes, the large international makeup of the MSFS student body, and the caliber of the faculty – all of whom were top practitioners in their fields, including one I saw later that night on CNN,” reflected Gough. “What also really got me excited about MSFS during the visit was sitting down and talking with some of the current students. They came from all over the world, had incredible backgrounds, were interning at impressive organizations, and were all very friendly and willing to talk to me about their experience at MSFS. After that, I signed my acceptance letter and have never once regretted it.”
Mr. Gough noted that MSFS prepared him to be a leader, regardless of what field he found himself in. After graduation, he worked as a Socioeconomic Advisor to the U.S. Department of Defense Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force. His time at MSFS was instrumental to his success. “What you learn at MSFS will make you stand out. It eliminates the learning curve allowing you to comfortably step right out of the classroom and into a high level planning meeting without missing a beat,” he said. He advises that current MSFS students get to know their teachers and classmates, “an invaluable network of both friends and colleagues.” Mr. Gough’s connection with his peers made a lasting impact on his life. He reflects that his classmates pushed him to be the best version of himself, and that he is still close with many of them.
Mr. Gough also gained valuable mentors during his time at MSFS, including his professor Secretary Chuck Hagel. They found common ground in their veteran status and met often to discuss politics and foreign policy. Mr. Gough recalled, “While he was Secretary of Defense I wrote him an email asking for a letter of recommendation for a position for which the Obama Administration was considering me; he wrote it for me the next day. For every major decision I’ve had to make in my career, I’ll email him, and very soon thereafter will receive one back saying, ‘I think we should sit down.’”
While the time Mr. Gough and other MSFS alumni have at Georgetown is short, the relationships they develop with their friends, colleagues and professors here outlast that short experience and continue to positively impact the rest of their lives.