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Best of the Week 2018-2019: Excellence in College Prep


St. Ed's welcomed Ambassador Ryan Crocker to speak to IB Diploma students and members of St. Ed's Model UN, Mock Trial and Cross and Anchors Society about the United States and its relationship with the Middle East. Mr. Crocker, a former career ambassador within the United States Foreign Service, has served as United States Ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Kuwait and Lebanon. In 2010, Mr. Crocker became Dean of Texas A&M University's George Bush School of Government and Public Service and was nominated to serve as a member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors in 2013. Mr. Crocker is also a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. During his presentation, Mr. Crocker spoke about his career as a former United States Ambassador, recounting the work he did with Middle Eastern countries and his participation in preparation for the Afghanistan invasion to overthrow the Taliban government after 9/11. He further explained the connection between the United States Foreign Service and the U.S. military, delved deeper into the importance of diplomacy, and put to rest general stereotypes about what it means to be a diplomat.

Additionally, Mr. Crocker emphasized the cut-throat work he faced as an ambassador, working with multiple presidents from both the Republican and Democratic sides with differing views toward policy. He expressed the importance of leadership, negotiation, creativity, strategy and critical decision-making skills needed to work in diplomacy and was honest about the level of difficulty one faces in his position to stand firm, argue strongly, and accept the responsibility to make decisions for the benefit of the country. Mr. Crocker also touched upon the importance of learning how conflict shapes culture, politics and social norms. He explained that, while serving in nations that the United States has had conflict with, it was imperative for him to understand the impact of military activity on foreign nations and its people through their eyes in order to honestly serve in his position. "A diplomat is an honest man who serves his country," says Mr. Crocker. "Leave your preconceptions at home and don't just understand the history of the place you're going to, but see it through another lens."

"Mr. Crocker demonstrated a wealth of experience in his remarks and concentrated on sharing the core basics of what the U.S. Foreign Service's key roles are and how he handled the tricky issues of serving as a professional under Presidents from different parties," says Mr. Micahel Perrins, Director of International Programs. "His vast experience was palpable and having our Edsmen hear his insights was an invaluable opportunity for them to develop an awareness of international relations from a key professional operator. I enjoyed Mr. Crocker's touch of realism mixed with a good sense of humor about the need to understand that things, both in diplomacy and in life, aren't always straightforward and that nearly everything involves compromise." In the conclusion of his speech, Mr. Crocker shared his background, growing up in a military family and being exposed to international relations at a young age. He shared a life-changing experience when he was in college, realizing that he needed to take his future into his own hands. Mr. Crocker left students with a piece of advice about the future, encouraging students to develop as many options for themselves as possible, keeping an open mind, and not making any concrete decisions until they absolutely have to in order to maintain a serendipitous life. "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity," says Mr. Crocker. "Be as prepared as you can so when something comes your way, you can either seize it or deflect it. Above all, you make your own luck. It's what you do that allows luck to smile on you."

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