Julia Hernandez '20 Legislative and Policy Analyst, Senate Foreign Relations Committee

What have you been doing professionally since graduation?

Following the postponement of my post-graduate plans to go to Morocco with the Peace Corps as a youth development specialist, I spent a year working on issues related to advocacy and human rights in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. After it became clear that Peace Corps was no longer an option due to COVID, I accepted my current position working for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as a Legislative and Policy Analyst. In this position, I work on the committee's MENA team, where I specifically cover North Africa as well as our public diplomacy portfolio.

What's the most exciting part of your professional work?

Working on Capitol Hill means that there is never a dull moment in my work day. A big portion of my job is providing oversight and staying up-to-date with everything that is going on in the MENA region. Whether that is by reading the news, meeting with State Department officials and diplomats, or having briefings with think tanks, my work day is constantly filled with interesting and thought-provoking conversations. One of the most exciting parts of working on the committee is that I can see the direct impact of my team's work on U.S. foreign policy.

How did your studies in SOAN at W&L help prepare you for your work?

One of the great things about the SOAN Department is that the major can be tailored to fit a student's specific interests and objectives. For my senior sociology capstone, I was able to pursue a project that combined my interests in language and North African culture. As a double French and SOAN major, this capstone touched on all my interests and allowed me to do a deep dive into the sociopolitical environment of the MENA region. The capstone project is a great opportunity to fine tune a student's research experience and subject knowledge in a specific area of interest. In my experience, my capstone project was extremely helpful in providing a unique project that I was able to talk about and discuss while in the application and interview process for different policy jobs. I truly believe that the SOAN major provides students with such a unique interdisciplinary education that can be translated across many different professions and jobs. Not to mention, the SOAN Department and professors are incredibly supportive and helpful!