Preston Hildebrand

As an International Studies major, I haven taken an array of classes in an increasingly varied range of fields: political science, history, economics, anthropology, sociology and languages. In a similar trend, I have had the pleasure of traveling more than most students. I spent my junior year in Washington, DC and in Hong Kong. During my senior year I competed in a Central Intelligence Agency simulation and spent a week in Japan. These experiences have solidified my love of Asia and my passion for security policies.

During the fall of 2011, I attended a program called the Washington Semester at American University. Two days a week I interned at the State Department and then devoted the other three days to attending policy meetings and think tank panel discussions, and reading intensively. I attended WSP for American foreign policy. As an intern at the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training at the Foreign Service Institute, U.S. Department of State, I was able to debrief returning Foreign Service Officers, particularly those returning from the Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Afghanistan and Iraq. What they told me in their interviews has taught me much about soft power and the impact our policies have on those in other nations.

The following spring, I attended Lingnan University in Hong Kong. I finally had the opportunity to take courses focused heavily on Asia and security. I took advantage of this. I also took advantage of my ability to travel so easily around Asia, an opportunity I will not have for some time in the future. I was able to visit China (Chengdu, Shanghai and Beijing) several times, South Korea and the Philippines. Seeing, smelling and tasting my way around these countries was an experience I can never forget. It forged the passion that has made me determined to work in the field.

During my senior year I was invited to join the team representing Washington College at the Tri-State Central Intelligence Agency Undergraduate Simulation at Georgetown. The simulation involved receiving “intelligence traffic” and, with the aid of actual CIA analysts, create briefings for senior analysts. Not only did Washington College walk away with the victory, but the simulation confirmed my decision to pursue a career in the intelligence community.

Most recently, I was given an incredible chance to return to Asia. Washington College’s Japan Politics and Foreign Policy class received a grant from the Japan Foundation’s Center for Global Partnership. In addition to visiting museums, shrines, an onsen bath and a traditional inn during a Spring Break trip, we were able to meet with Japanese politicians and government workers at the national and local levels. While we spent the vast majority of our time in Tokyo, we traveled to Matsushima, where we presented the funds Washington College had risen in response to the Triple Disasters of 3/11 and also donated children’s books to a new village library. We also volunteered in the areas believed to be a safe distance from the disabled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, still a source of unsafe levels of radiation. By the time I returned to the United States, I had already promised myself I would return to Asia as soon as I could.

By combining all these experiences, I ensured I had a firm grasp of how the foreign policy community functions. My time in Asia through study abroad and the trip to Japan fortified my love of Asia, while my time in DC with WSP and the simulation reinforced my desire to serve the United States in a capacity I know I can do well in and enjoy: the intelligence and foreign policy communities. Those introduction courses in International Studies at Washington College started this process and I can only thank them for instilling in me this desire that will carry me far into my first career.

Campus Involvement
  • Major: International Studies
  • Concentrations: Asia (China in particular) and strategic studies
  • Languages: English and French
  • Presidential Fellows
  • Internship: Washington Semester Program (Fall 2010)
  • Jazz Combo
  • Jazz Ensemble
  • Study Abroad: Spring 2011, Hong Kong (Lingnan University)

Summer Study Abroad Session

Looking into graduate programs for post-undergrad. Also looking into getting a job with the US government or a think tank/policy institute.

Future Plans

I am interested in strategic studies, which is a unique blend of political science, military policy, foreign policy, economic development and peace/ conflict resolution. China is a country that is on the rise in the international community, and it is a nation the United States cannot afford to overlook, which is why I am interested in pursuing a future career studying and working with China. Their perception of how a superpower should act in a global community is different than ours (Eastern vs. Western doctrine).