Now working at the U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia, Nick Barnett ’04 spends his days as a spokesperson in support of the reform process in Ethiopia. He took the Foreign Service Officer test in 2007 and went through a rigorous interview process, before being asked to join the U.S. Department of State in the fall of 2008. Nick was hired as a diplomat in the public diplomacy career track. He received his first assignment in Tajikistan and spent several months preparing by learning Russian. He was later assigned to be the spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia. Nick said that “(Although) many challenges remain, I share the optimism of the Ethiopian people and am proud to represent the United States in supporting their capacity to achieve their aspirations of a democratic, prosperous, and stable future.”
Originally from Cambridge, Md., Nick was attracted to Iona because of the campus, small class sizes, and proximity to New York City. He was awarded the Dean’s Scholarship covering full tuition and attended Iona as a member of the Honors Program. While at Iona, Nick majored in mass communication with a focus in advertising. He was a member of the Iona College Men’s Crew team for all four years and was selected as the Iona College Rower of the Year in 2003. Nick was also chosen to be the speaker at his Commencement ceremony in 2004.
“I had some very inspiring teachers and learned a lot, but I think that joining the Crew team was the best experience (at Iona) because it changed the way I thought about myself and what I could do. I was far from athletic, never exercised, but with a coach and teammates who supported me, I discovered that I could do things I didn’t think I could do. The ability to challenge my own limitations is something that has stayed with me and plays a big factor in my professional accomplishments. The answer, when confronted with a challenge, is always to try,” says Nick.
A recent Edward R. Murrow recipient, Nick’s next assignment will have him working in the Operations Center at the State Department headquarters in Washington, D.C. Nick encourages students to take every opportunity they can. “Iona College is a place that offers opportunities for those who are willing to pursue them… I took the opportunity to apply for a job with the Department of State, which has taken me and my family around the world and provided me with the opportunity to serve our country, share our values, and help other people pursue better lives for themselves.”