Interview with Alumnus Felipe Bueno
Seton Hall University alumnus Felipe Bueno, primarily known to members of the SHU community as the former Editor-in-Chief of The Diplomatic Envoy, is currently pursuing a Master’s in Public Policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government this fall. After a prestigious lineup of internships and jobs, including as a research intern at the Modern War Institute at West Point, an editorial fellow at Business Insider, and a press associate for Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), he has set his eyes on a career in American diplomacy. As a distinguished Rangel Fellow in the 2020 Rangel International Affairs Graduate Fellowship, a premier U.S. Department of State program created to attract diverse talent to its Foreign Service, Felipe continues to partake in international affairs related internships during his time as a graduate student.
However, when asked if he always knew this would be his career choice, Felipe stated that he did not. It was through both internships and experiences that Felipe began to understand what he wanted to pursue. “I essentially started asking myself, both at the Envoy and Doctors Without Borders, ‘where can I add the most value?’ I think that, on the whole, the more experiences I had -the more I engaged with the subject matter- the more it just started falling into place.” Felipe said his early experience with non-academic writing while at the Envoy is what allowed him to land the internships that led him on this path and, eventually, to the prestigious Rangel International Affairs Graduate Fellowship.
Felipe’s internship at Business Insider as an Editorial Fellow took place during some of the most contentious moments in recent history, such as Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing, and the 2018 midterm elections. When asked about specific insights that he gained from his time at Business Insider that would be useful to incoming international relations majors, Felipe emphasized the importance of media literacy and suggested that international relations majors take a journalism class. “If you go into international relations,” Felipe said, “understanding how information gets to you, and understanding its relative importance, is crucial because you are going to be operating day to day, minute to minute, on breaking news.”
After Business Insider, Felipe joined the press team at Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), only a few months before the global COVID-19 pandemic broke out. Felipe stated that his work shifted from communicating about “what our doctors were doing abroad” to “what they were doing in the US.”
“With COVID, our work revolved around the work that MSF was doing with migrant labor communities in Florida and our work in nursing homes in Detroit,” Felipe recalled. His work at MSF made him realize that “states play a tremendous role in the world.” This realization, Felipe said, is what made him want to work for the American Foreign Service.
However, the importance of nation-states in the world was not the only factor that motivated Felipe to pursue a career in the Foreign Service. In 2019, he became a United States Citizen after having originally immigrated to the U.S. from Ecuador in 2003. He says that his experience as an immigrant sparked his interest in diplomacy. “The fact of the matter is that the United States is unique in that you can come here – immigrate – become a citizen, and then represent your country abroad,” Felipe said. “The fact that America allows that is beautiful, and it’s something that I want to be in service to.” To that end, Felipe was awarded the Department of State’s Rangel Fellowship. “What’s really amazing about the Rangel Fellowship is being a part of this network of traditionally underrepresented international relations professionals. To me, that extolls what is so unique and beautiful about America,” Felipe concluded.
As a graduate student, Felipe divides his time between his studies and being a research assistant for Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, where he is working on the Cyber Threat Intelligence Project. When asked what advice he would give to undecided students or freshmen, Felipe quoted Albert Camus, “The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart.” In quoting Camus, Felipe relayed this message: “For undecided students or freshman students, you should remember that you might not ever find the role or career that gives you the personal fulfillment we all crave. That should not deter you from trying to find your dream career, but it should compel you to conduct your search in a way that makes you enjoy the process.”