On April 23, 2019 I received an email communication from the US Department of State confirming that I had been selected as an Intern in the extremely competitive State Department Internship program for Fall 2019. This program receives thousands of applications per semester, and many are disappointed when they are not selected. I had previously applied for the Summer 2019 program but had not been selected. With my new application for the Fall 2018, I focused far more attention on my activities with the Utah International Mountain Forum (UIMF), a coalition of student clubs at Utah Valley University (UVU) and this was a major factor in landing the internship.
(L to R): Brandon Pedler, Permanent Representative of Austria to the UN, Ambassador Jan Kickert, Dr. Geoffrey Cockerham, Associate Professor at UVU and William Gum-Casey, UVU student
When I started with UIMF about a year ago, I did not know that it would be one of the defining moves of my career as a student, and what experiences it would enable me to have. I thought of it simply as another club on campus, and something to add to the resumé with little to no work. UIMF advocates the United Nations Sustainable mountain development agenda in the State of Utah and North America since 2011. These thoughts were quickly dispelled as I found myself attending and contributing to the agendas and activities of high-level political forums of the United Nations and panels with distinguished diplomats such as Director of Outreach in the UN Department of Public Information, Mr.Maher Nasser, Permanent Representative of Tajikistan to the UN, Ambassador Mahmadaminov, Permanent Representative of Austria to the UN, Ambassador Jan Kickert, and Consul General of Azerbaijan, Mr. Nasimi Aghayev among others. I have written several write-ups and papers, one of which is pending publication in the 2019 edition of the Youth in the Mountain Journal on Sustainable Development in Afghanistan.
All of these things were of great interest to the State Department. A short time after, I received a call from both of the bureaus to which I had applied. Both mentioned that they were very interested in the work that I had done with UIMF in helping to host and evaluate the visits of foreign dignitaries. One bureau offered me a conditional internship during the interview, and the other only a few short hours later after they had finished their other interviews. Now that I have received the official offer from the Internship Office, I can begin to prepare to work in the US Mission to the UN in New York City. I am also proud to continue a tradition for UIMF to help several other members to intern at an international level: in October-December, 2013, UIMF President Joseph McCain was an intern at the Permanent Mission of Kyrgyzstan to the UN and in January April 2016, Yanko Dzhukev was the first UVU intern at FAO-UN in Rome, Italy and then during May-August, 2016, Yanko Dzhukev became the first UVU intern at the United Nations Secretariat, within the Office of Legal Affairs at the UN headquarters in New York.
I am especially grateful to the UIMF and Dr. Baktybek Abdrisaev, UIMF mentor for the club, and for the opportunities they have made available, and doors that they have opened for me. This would not have been possible without my fellow UIMF students, and the great faculty at Utah Valley University.
Brandon Pedler, President German Club at UVU