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My Journey into the World of Foreign Policy

I was interested in issues of peace and security from a young age. I used to wake up early every day before school (when I was as young as eight or nine years old) and check Yahoo! News for their world news coverage. I loved carefully following major world events, such as the Second Palestinian Intifada, because it was exciting to see how events developed over time.

Like many other individuals, I was also deeply affected by the events of 9/11. Although I could not grasp the magnitude of the tragedy, my first memories of war and violence revolved around terrorism, especially originating from the Middle East. This heavily impacted my decision to focus on the Middle East in my studies and in my career. 9/11 also motivated me to devote my life to public service.

Peace and security issues are important because they impact many aspects of our daily lives. This is due to the fact that foreign policy is deeply intertwined with domestic policy. As one example, increasing defense spending usually means decreasing spending elsewhere, like on education or healthcare. In another example, poorly-constructed or implemented foreign policy can have long-lasting social, economic, and political effects on Americans. Because my career objective is to improve the lives of Americans, a career in foreign policy was a good fit.

Leore listening to General (Ret.) David Petraeus

Given my strong interest in issues of peace and security, the Scoville Fellowship was an ideal program for me. Although I did not previously study nuclear issues, I picked up the relevant topics quickly and learned to love the topic. Gaining knowledge in a new subject also made me a more attractive employee because it showed I could dive deeply into a new issue area in a few months. A few of the things I did to gain knowledge on nuclear issues were going to relevant public events hosted by DC think tanks, participating in private roundtables at Brookings on pressing policy topics, and reading informational material produced by the Nuclear Threat Initiative. I also wrote a few blog posts for the Brookings blog “Order From Chaos” that helped me narrow in on an important subtopic like the Nuclear Security Summits.

Furthermore, by bringing me to Washington DC and connecting me with a large community of like-minded individuals, Scoville provided me with additional research skills and a strong professional network, and opened up several career opportunities. I was actually recruited into my current position through a former Scoville fellow.

Leore listening to former Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter

Today, I am a research assistant for Professor Graham T. Allison at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs where I primarily work on Iran, Israel, and Syria. I just applied for Ph.D. and masters programs so that I can continue to gain regional and topical expertise. Once I have completed my advanced degree, I plan on becoming a professor or applying for the Presidential Management Fellows program.

Leore Ben-Chorin was a Fall 2015 Scoville Fellow at the Brookings Institution. She is currently a research assistant at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard.