The Master of Science in Foreign Service program is delighted to announce a new story series, focusing on shining a spotlight on our incredible alumni. These women and men share a common MSFS degree, yet they are leaders in so many different fields. 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 first spotlight is Sarah Heck, MSFS ’10.
Sarah Heck currently serves as the Director for Global Engagement at the National Security Council of the White House. In her position she oversees the President’s foreign policy and national security efforts focused on public diplomacy, youth engagement, and entrepreneurship and innovation. As she discussed her years working in international affairs, she reflected on how her time at Georgetown shaped her career.
Sarah was initially drawn to the MSFS program due to the high energy and abundance of opportunities in Washington, D.C. The wide network of Georgetown alumni, along with various cross-sectoral events around town, played a primary role in connecting her with her current career path. Through these connections, Sarah secured a position to serve as Research Assistant to Secretary Chuck Hagel. “It was an invaluable experience to work with Secretary Hagel as a practitioner in my field of interest,” she said. “It allowed me to learn directly from a leader in the foreign policy field.”
Sarah was also attracted to the wonderfully vibrant community of the university, as well as the Jesuit values—women and men for others--embodied in the MSFS program. Tropaia – a ceremony that celebrates the accomplishments of graduating students each year – was cited as Sarah’s favorite memory of MSFS. The ceremony for Sarah was “an example of the strength of the community - a graduation ceremony that has that heartfelt and personalized feel.”
Sarah cited the various practical skillsets she honed during her time at Georgetown, such as writing policy memo’s quickly and effectively, as integral to her success after graduation. “MSFS has a really good blend of the academic and intellectual sides, but also a practical side that will be really useful to your career once graduating from the MSFS program,” she reflected. In terms of Sarah’s own personal viewpoint as to what students need to study: “The dynamics outside of International Affairs.” Today’s practitioners need to understand how things like financial markets, technology, business practices, civil society and demographic factors affect international politics and national security trends.
Beyond traditional academics, Sarah recommended taking full advantage of the countless extracurricular activities that Georgetown offers. “This will be the best time in your life to try new things and to reinvent yourself, so you should take full advantage of it while you can,” she said. “It’s simply a great time to explore.”