Sydney Scribner

Sydney ScribnerHometown: Toledo, Ohio
Major: Diplomacy and global politics
Minors: French; Middle East and Islamic studies; European area studies
Graduation: May 2017

After graduation: Hopes to work in Washington D.C. to gain experience before applying to graduate school

"All future policy makers [should] study religion, to some extent, in order to better inform themselves about the people their decisions will impact."

What are your career goals?

Ultimately, I want to be a Foreign Service Officer. I was an International Baccalaureate in high school, which sparked my interest in international relations and taught me how to think globally. I’ve always loved traveling and politics, so a career in diplomacy or foreign policy is a good fit for me.

How have you prepared for that career during your time at Miami?

I actually chose Miami because it was the only school in Ohio that offered a Diplomacy and Global Politics major. I decided to add the Middle East and Islamic Studies (MEIS) minor after taking a “Politics of the Middle East” course. I was mesmerized by the culture of the region and wanted to learn more.

I am currently studying abroad at the University of Haifa’s International School. I wanted to go to Istanbul, but my program was canceled after the coup [attempted in July 2016]. I am loving my time in Israel and am grateful that I have the opportunity to study in my focal region.

This past summer, I interned at the U.S. Department of State in Washington D.C.

How has studying religion fit into your career prep?

I signed up for REL 376, “Global Militant Islamisms” because it was one of the few courses for the MEIS minor that was being offered that semester. However, after the first class session I knew I was going to love it. We examined contemporary movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda, ISIS, and others. During the course, I started to realize that I have an interest in working in counterterrorism.

The writing assignments were incredibly brief. But when I interned at the State Department, I was surprised at how prepared I was. Dr. French had us write brief papers because at the State Department everything is under 2-3 pages. I was the only intern in my office who didn’t struggle with saying what I needed to say concisely.

Before the course, I knew that political Islam exists. But I had never read the Qur’an, and I had only a vague idea of the differences between Sunni and Shia Islam. REL 376 helped me to more fully understand how radical groups use religion to justify their actions.

As someone hoping to begin a career in foreign policy, I believe that understanding religion is a key factor in creating competent policy. It is impossible to successfully combat a radical ideology without understanding where it comes from and what it is rooted in. I think it’s important for all future policy makers to study religion, to some extent, in order to better inform themselves about the people their decisions will impact.