Alumni Spotlight: Emma Tobin

Waina Ali
Staff Writer

Emma Tobin, a 2019 graduate of Seton Hall University’s School of Diplomacy and International Relations, recently sat down with the Diplomatic Envoy to reflect on her experiences throughout her time at Seton Hall leading to her career aspirations now.  Before her time at Seton Hall, Emma took a gap year to explore Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Morocco. Part of her desire for global experiences was due to her upbringing in Europe. One of her most influential experiences was in Morocco where she worked at a non-profit organization, where she worked on sanitation projects and women’s empowerment projects. She also met a woman who became her mentor, though communicating was difficult because of the linguistic barrier between them. These international experiences were incredibly beneficial for Emma leading up to her studies at Seton Hall University, she said.

The opportunities Emma received through Seton Hall and the School of Diplomacy strengthened her professionalism and networking skills.  She worked on admissions panels where she interacted with various prospective students, where she felt fulfilled by the ability to impact students’ futures. As a freshman, Emma had the opportunity of attending a counterterrorism briefing at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York, which helped strengthen her knowledge of the United States military’s actions. Furthermore, Emma noticed the lack of discussion about violence against women occurring on college campuses. To help encourage more conversation, Emma founded the KnowMore program, which is focused on educating students about sexual violence prevention.  Her time with KnowMore helped her develop the skills needed to advocate for women’s rights and equality.

Emma also pursued a minor in Arabic at Seton Hall following her time in Morocco, where she felt inspired to study the language because of the language barrier she experienced while traveling. Her persistent drive to learn Arabic culminated in winning the Department of State Critical Language Scholarship. She spent eight weeks in Morocco where she was completely immersed in the Arabic language, which was especially rewarding as it was the country where she met her mentor. Emma described her experience as the “most challenging yet rewarding program” as she worked to bridge the language barrier she experienced before. Her multiple tries applying for the Critical Language Scholarship taught her that rejection is redirection; each rejection of her application taught her something new and eventually led to her success. She advises students to ensure their application reflects their genuine goals and ambitions.

Emma interned at the United Nations during her time at Seton Hall. Her experience changed her view of the international relations field by demonstrating to her what a true public servant looks like: a “game-changer” who weaves through the complex issues they face. Another major takeaway from her U.N. internship was her discovery of the Truman Scholarship; by becoming a Truman scholar, Emma was able to pursue the role of the diplomats she observed at the U.N., providing her the opportunity to pursue her passion for women’s global equality and work towards her graduate degree at Oxford University in England. 

As of now, Emma is at Oxford, writing her thesis with a focus on gender inequality, specifically on female genital circumcision in Indonesia.  She plans to work towards an academic understanding of issues like this and eventually turn that knowledge into culturally specific solutions. Her gap year taught her that these communities have the power to heal when given the proper tools to do so. Reflecting on her time at Seton Hall, Emma truly feels that the School of Diplomacy helped her to create the tools she needed for success. She urges students to remember their potential and not lose focus of their goals, no matter how distant they seem.

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