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Sharing What it Means to be a Diplomat

Stephen Hickey ’98 visited Westminster Sept. 16 to give a presentation to the school community about his career as a diplomat. He was recently appointed Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the Republic of Iraq and will take up his post in November.

For nearly two decades, Stephen has served in a variety of diplomatic positions, most recently as ambassador and political coordinator for the U.K Permanent Mission to the United Nations for four years.

“It is a joy to have an alumnus back to campus to share his experience at Westminster,” said Headmaster Bill Philip in introducing Stephen to the audience. Stephen spent six months at Westminster in 1998 as an English- Speaking Union exchange student.

Stephen began his remarks by mentioning a small role he had as a student in the Dramat musical “Guys and Dolls” on the very same Werner Centennial Center stage on which he was standing and saying how much he loved every minute of his time at Westminster. He also talked about classes he had with faculty members Michael Cervas and Todd Eckerson.

While completing his studies at Oxford, Stephen said he did not know what he wanted to do for a career. “I had fun at Oxford and knew I was interested in the world,” he said. He ended up applying for a job with the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office and being offered a position. He learned to speak Arabic.

Stephen explained what diplomats do, emphasizing roles in promoting their country, preventing conflicts and furthering human rights. He shared details about his postings in Syria, Libya and Egypt, including during the Arab Spring. And from his time working with the U.N. Security Council, he said, “We are at a really pivotal moment in the world.”

“One of the reasons I came to the U.S. to study is that I have always loved America,” he explained about attending Westminster. “I have been inspired by U.S. history.”

He offered some advice to the students. “Be curious about the world,” he said. “The world needs people like you to be engaged.” He also urged them to be ambitious and bold. “Very rarely does anyone give you a dream job. You have to take risks and put yourself forward.”

He closed by responding to a number of questions from students and faculty and thanking everyone for listening.

Headmaster Philip concluded the event by saying, “What a great honor to have Stephen here today and to hear how much he cares about all of us.”

Following the presentation, Stephen attended Betsy Heckman’s AP Comparative Government class, where he answered questions on a range of topics from British foreign policy and global hotspots to how he became a diplomat and what is the best preparation for that role.
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