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Mulligan with Callista Gingrich

Internships With International Impact

Q&A with senior Noah Mulligan on a career-launching summer.

Above: Mulligan with Callista Gingrich

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Mulligan with Buzz Aldrin
Mulligan with Buzz Aldrin

Noah Mulligan ‘21 recently returned from internships at the U.S. State Department and Council on Foreign Relations – the center of the universe of American diplomacy. Both experiences gave him a vital look into the real-world application of what he’s been studying as a history and political science double major. We caught up with him for a Q&A about his time in Washington, D.C., where he rubbed elbows with diplomats and … legendary astronauts.

What sparked your interest in foreign service?

It was a conversation with Richard Kauzlarich, former U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan, who spoke at a human rights event at CNU that I organized with the help of Dr. Falk and Nancy Wilson from the History Department. I learned about the goals and ambitions the United States has and the role it plays in an increasingly interdependent world. I was fascinated by his experiences abroad and how it had opened his eyes to a vast array of cultures and societies he would have never otherwise been immersed in.

What was a typical day at work like?

At my internship at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), I worked for [Senior Vice President] James M. Lindsay and his research associates examining contemporary American foreign policy and international affairs. I would typically work on research for Lindsay’s upcoming book on American foreign policy in the early 19th century, and wrote drafts for specific topics in the book. I also analyzed current international developments for his weekly podcast, “The Water’s Edge.” I assisted with writing and editing content for the CFR’s 2020 election and foreign policy blog and other publications, including the blog posts on foreign policy milestones.

My internship at the State Department’s National Museum of American Diplomacy consisted of several independent projects and research on American diplomatic history and foreign service officers (FSOs). I had the unique opportunity to work alongside several FSOs, learn about their experiences, and hear firsthand how exciting and important their work is has inspired me to pursue a future in foreign service.

I was inspired by the character, integrity and intelligence of the foreign service. It has played a key role in impacting both international relations throughout history and an integral role in promoting peace, economic development, human rights and U.S. interests abroad.

Working alongside FSOs, learning about their experiences and hearing firsthand how exciting their work is

"These opportunities outside the classroom show how much a motivated undergraduate at Christopher Newport can accomplish," said Dr. Andrew Falk, Chair of the History Department. "Noah and I have collaborated on successful grant applications, research projects involving travel to the National Archives and the Library of Congress, and conference presentations. It's a real partnership."

Any memorable encounters while you were there?

I will never forget meeting CFR President Richard Haas, and learning about his incredible experience as director of policy and planning in the State Department under [former Secretary of State] Colin Powell. I was moved by his message about the importance of hard work and dedication in the foreign service, and how much of a difference individuals can make really spoke to me.

It was memorable to meet Ambassador Callista Gingrich at the 35th anniversary reception and exhibition on the diplomatic history and significance of the United States Embassy in the Holy See [headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church in Vatican City].

Another memorable encounter was at the 270th anniversary of the State Department, which featured Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger discussing leadership styles within the agency. Kissinger gave a remarkable lecture, and it was impressive to see an individual who shaped so much of international relations today.

The United States National Diplomacy Museum, Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, and George Washington University collaborated for the 50th anniversary commemoration of the Apollo 11 moon landing. There was a panel discussion on the history of space diplomacy that consisted of former Apollo 11 astronauts Michael Collins and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin. It left an enormous impact on my decision to study and spend my time working to understand further history and diplomacy. Outside of the panel, I had the opportunity to meet Aldrin and Collins, and it was remarkable being around people who had altered and shaped the course of U.S. history and foreign policy for decades.

What are your plans after graduation?

I am applying for several fellowships through the State Department, including the Pickering and Rangel fellowships. These opportunities are pathways into the foreign service, which is one of my future career goals. I’m also applying to master’s programs in public policy and international relations in the D.C. area.


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