Government & Foreign Policy

Hugh McMillan ’50 was working on a doctorate in International Relations at the University of Washington when he was recruited into the Central Intelligence Agency.  Overseas assignments in Japan, India, Egypt, France, and Turkey in the 1950s to 1970s brought many memorable experiences; for instance, he recalls being moved by the outpouring of sympathy by citizens in India, Hong Kong, and Japan when President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963.  In 1967, as Chief of the Consular Section and Security Officer at the US Consulate in Alexandria, Egypt, Hugh oversaw the evacuation of all Americans from Egypt during the Six Day War, and was later falsely reported dead after a mob attack on the consulate.  Hugh particularly enjoyed opportunities for cultural immersion, language study, and travel during his years abroad, and writes that studying history helped him put his experiences in perspective. Hugh writes, “I was born with an inquiring, ‘gotta know’ mind which CPS’ History Department pushed into higher gear. I did a paper on the Battle of Trafalgar which compelled me for the first time to dig and dig for every detail – a trait still with me and absolutely integral to the business of espionage.” He urges students interested in intelligence work to acquire fluency in a second language, such as Arabic, Mandarin, Russian, or Spanish, to “learn about the history, economics, cultures, music, foods of other countries.”

C. Mark Smith ’61 writes that while studying history didn’t directly influence his first career in mortgage banking, his interest in history led him to join the Washington State Historical Society and to become active in local politics, which in turn led him into public service and economic development consulting.  After serving as the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Western Regional Director of the Economic Development Administration in Washington, and taking on leadership positions in economic development in Pierce County, Birmingham, AL, and Richland, WA, he ‘retired’ to a new career in historical research and writing.  Over the past several years Mark has authored four articles and three books on Northwest history and public figures such as Senator Harry P. Cain and the late Prof. Stan Shelmidine. At UPS, he writes, “I developed interests that have remained with me the rest of my life, such as the history and peoples of the Middle East, which has made it easier to understand what has, and is, happening there. It helped me to understand the need for context and to be able to better see the ‘big picture.’  These helped me in my work, my community activities, and more recently, with my writing.”

Janet Bogue ’75 writes,  “After two years of trying out public sector and private sector ‘starter’ jobs, I went back to graduate school in history at the University of Oregon, taking a Master's degree there and beginning a Ph.D. program.  I interrupted that to take up an offer to teach in remote communities in Alaska, which was a terrific adventure.  An even more interesting adventure took me from there to the United States Foreign Service, where I spent 24 years as an American diplomat -- no longer studying history formally, but making a bit of history in the Balkans, South Asia, and Central Asia.”  Janet believes “studying history is the perfect preparation for diplomats, who need to be able to think, write, and speak clearly (in multiple languages); analyze complex situations; and understand context and perspective.  Knowing history also enriches a diplomat's life – a grueling business trip on bad roads becomes a charming voyage along an ancient salt trade route between Tibet and India.”  She has this advice to aspiring diplomats:  “learn to organize your thoughts and write them clearly.  There is little time for a diplomat to learn these skills on the job.  I once sent a young officer home because he could not write a simple declarative sentence or a well-organized paragraph.   With a Balkan war raging, I had no time to teach him. Second, study broadly.  Take at least one living foreign language.  Learn the principles of economics.  Study the fundamentals of science.  Develop an appreciation for the arts.  Read world literature.  Enroll in statistics.  You will use all of this background to be a successful diplomat.”  

After five years working for an insurance company serving the Washington forest industry, Mike Patjens ’77 began his career with the State of Washington. He writes, “As a Tacoma native with a History degree in NW History, and a great amount of civic pride, public service seemed like a good fit.  I have now worked for the State of Washington for 30 years, 25 of which have been with the Department of Labor and Industries, Third Party Section as a Tort Claims Investigator/ Adjudicator.  This position has been challenging, rewarding and provided a steady income even through recent economic downturns.  Looking back, my advice to any college student would be to understand, pursue, and live.  You can achieve any goal with persistence and determination.  Add passion and you will always be a success!”

Jane (Galloway) Demaray ’79 worked for 25 years as a special education teacher, after which she and her husband spent several years operating a real estate office in Helena, MT.  In 2012 Jane was hired by the Montana Secretary of State’s office, where she now serves as Deputy Secretary of State and Chief of Staff.  She writes, “Working on behalf of the citizens of Montana in the fields of business registration, elections, records management, administrative rules, and notary is the one the rewards of my job.  In addition, I also enjoy facilitating a stable work community for classified staff (about 50 employees) who are here no matter who the secretary of state is.” Jane has also continued to do history: she is the author of Yellowstone Summers (Washington State University Press, 2015), a book about her great-great uncle, Will Wylie, who led camping tours in Yellowstone National Park in 1882-1905.  She offers this advice to students: “I suggest a balanced approach. Study history and have a safety net to make a living – some way to practice those skills in a healthy work community.  Respect the lessons of the past and be open to the opportunities of the present and future.  Some of my best experiences have presented themselves serendipitously.”

After graduation, Kathy Guerra ’01 taught social studies for three years at Evergreen High School in Burien. She writes that this “was an eye-opening experience.  I had students in my classes from countries around the world - Iraqi and Sudanese refugees, second-generation Vietnamese and Cambodian immigrants, and Mexican and Salvadorian students.  Their amazing life stories, as well as 9-11 (which happened while I was in grad school) inspired me to find a way to see and learn about the world firsthand while continuing to serve others.  After passing the written and oral exams and what felt like a million different clearance processes, I joined the State Department in 2005.  I've served in Singapore, Bogota, Guatemala City, and am currently serving in Guadalajara as the Public Affairs Officer at the Consulate General here.”  Kathy credits her study of history with “the ability to think, write, explain and decide. Those have all been crucial to every job I’ve ever had, whether it was demonstrating to high school students the importance of reading primary sources, adjudicating immigrant and non-immigrant visas in Colombia, discussing U.S. foreign policy with Muslims in Singapore, or convincing D.C. bureaucrats to fund educational programs in Guatemala. Research has changed dramatically since I did my history thesis on the Panama Canal; I remember sitting in the Collins basement looking at microfiche for hours on end!  But that ability to sift through information and find the data (and cite my sources) to construct a compelling argument concisely is something I use every day, and I would argue is even more relevant in the age of Google and information overload than ever before.” Kathy’s advice to current students to preparing for the Foreign Service exam is “to read The Economist, cover to cover, every week. The exam is so wide-ranging it’s almost impossible to study for, but if you’re familiar with everything in The Economist for a few months running, you’re probably pretty close to prepared.”

Peter Braun ’08 is a police officer with the Oregon Health and Science University.  He writes, “I have had a strong interest in working in law enforcement since before I graduated, but getting there has been an adventure. In the 7 years since I graduated from UPS, I have worked in finance, as an automotive journalist (something, in fact, which I still do part time), in campus safety, and gotten a law degree from Lewis and Clark.  For much of that time I have been applying at different police departments, with a focus on getting into my dream career.”   Peter reflects that the critical thinking skills he developed through studying history enabled him “not just to learn content, but to think for myself and make sense of complex materials,” and have helped him “be an effective student of the world.” For students considering a career in law enforcement, Peter notes, “There is a surprising amount of carry-over between the type of independent and critical thinking needed to be a historian and to be a police officer. The best advice I can give is be patient; the process takes time and can be frustrating, and most people have had to apply to a lot of departments before being hired.”