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ASU grad and Marine Corps veteran sets sights on foreign service

Amber Sheardown poses for a photo
May 09, 2024

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2024 graduates

Amber Sheardown embarked on her journey at Arizona State University after serving in the U.S. Marine Corps and has been heavily involved in the community while pursuing her studies.

This May, she graduates with a degree in political science, a minor in global studies, and certificates in international affairs, and religion, peace and conflict. 

While at ASU, she participated in the School of Politics and Global Studies’ North Macedonia study abroad trip to learn about the history of the Balkans, worked at the university’s Pat Tillman Veterans Center and completed an internship at the State Department's United States Mission to the United Nations. 

Upon graduation, Sheardown plans to travel around the globe through professional opportunities.

Her first stop: Montenegro, where she’ll be interning for the summer through the Leadership, Diplomacy and National Security Lab’s ASU World Innovators Study Abroad Program

Her next stop: Brazil. Sheardown is a 2024 National Security Education Program David L. Boren Scholar, which is provided to outstanding students looking to learn more about underrepresented languages and cultures. In Brazil, she hopes to bolster her understanding of international security and Portuguese language skills. 

Here she talks about her time at ASU.

Question: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?

A: I got out of the Marine Corps during the COVID-19 pandemic and had little to no direction to what I was going to do. I wanted to stay in and become a Marine Security Guard or join the army; instead I decided to look into college opportunities. I stumbled upon the State Department’s website and decided that I wanted to become a diplomat whether it be a foreign service officer or diplomatic security in an embassy. 

I knew I wanted to continue to serve the public, and decided to pursue a degree in political science, a minor in global studies, and certificates in international affairs, and religion, peace and conflict.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective? 

A: During my time at ASU, I've learned a lot from different experiences. Watching student groups, artists and protests outside the MU, and participating in class discussions, has taught me a great deal. Recognizing how history repeats itself has shown me the importance of understanding both history and religions for my political science studies.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I chose ASU because of the Pat Tillman (Veterans) Center and how military friendly the school was. I also chose it because of the College of Liberal Arts program.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU? 

A: I've had some amazing professors along the way. Dr. (Charles) Ripley, for example, taught me to keep an open mind and heart, and to never judge someone based on stereotypes. He also taught me the importance of staying true to myself and to never stop cracking jokes.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: My top advice for those still in school is to seize every opportunity available to you. Remember, if you encounter setbacks, don't be discouraged. Keep trying, and don't confine yourself to specific opportunities. ASU also has many opportunities, take initiative to find them and network as much as you can.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: I would focus on combating human trafficking, particularly the exploitation of women and children. I would allocate funds to support organizations dedicated to prevention, rescue operations, legal prosecution of perpetrators and support services for survivors. 

By investing in these efforts, a significant impact could be made in protecting the most vulnerable members of our society from exploitation and abuse.

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