IU Hamilton Lugar School junior, Hayleigh Keasling, not only secured a highly sought-after internship at the U.S. State Department this summer, but she is also one of six students nationally to be named a 2022 Ambassadors Walter and Leonore Annenberg Fellow of the Council of American Ambassadors (CAA). This prestigious Fellowship, most often awarded to rising seniors, will significantly enhance Keasling’s internship in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs in Washington D.C.
As an Annenberg Fellow, Keasling will be mentored by former U.S. Ambassadors and will complete coursework in U.S. foreign policy and economics at George Mason University. She will also attend weekly guest lectures and connect with experts in economics and international affairs.
Keasling’s leadership and experience at the Hamilton Lugar School prepared her well for these opportunities. She is pursuing a double major in International Studies and Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures, with a concentration in Diplomacy, Security, and Governance. She is also learning Arabic and is a member of the Arabic Flagship Program.
“I was floored to find out I got the fellowship – especially as a rising junior,” said Keasling. “Having the opportunity to network with other Fellows and talk to former Ambassadors will help give mean idea of what the next 10-15 years of my life will look like.”
Keasling’s Middle East area knowledge positions her well for the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs.
“I think having Arabic language proficiency and having a cultural awareness of the region helped set me apart,” said Keasling. “In my coursework, I am focusing on understanding diplomacy and cultural nuances in that region. What also helped was learning from well renowned scholars and diplomats at HLS like Amb. Lee Feinstein and Amb. Feisal Amin Rasoul al-Istrabadi. Having professors like these who also take the time to make sure students understand will give me a strong background for my work this summer.”
Keasling has had many leadership opportunities at Indiana University that will also serve her well in her internship. Currently, she is the conference coordinator on the Indiana Model United Nations board of directors.
“I’ve had the opportunity to travel around the country competing with other universities known for foreign policy like Georgetown and University of Pennsylvania,” said Keasling. “All of these experiences have prepared me to be a leader and also an informed student going forward.”
Keasling had considered other foreign affairs schools before choosing Indiana University’s Hamilton Lugar School, due to its strong area studies and language programs.
“Indiana University offers the most languages in the country, and the School’s Founding Dean, Amb. Lee Feinstein, was a big reason as well,” said Keasling. “Dean Feinstein met with my mom and I when I visited IU as a sophomore to tell me what my four years would look like. It was also important to me to participate in a national language Flagship program, so the fact that IU had everything I wanted here in the Midwest made it the right choice.”
Keasling advises other Indiana University students to take advantage of international studies courses that can enhance their own fields of study.
“Even if it’s not your major, I recommend taking a few international studies courses,” she said. “I have friends in other Schools at IU who have said it has made them more competitive in their fields.”
When she returns to IU this fall, Keasling will begin her fourth year of Arabic language study, and will also become director general for the Indiana Model UN conference. She plans to study abroad in Jordan in summer 2023 before her senior year.