WKU’s Diplomat-in-Residence opens student’s horizons

Mollie Moore

The first time Michael McClellan, WKU’s current Diplomat-in-Residence, ever left the U.S. was when he took his first assignment as a Foreign Service Officer in North Yemen in 1985.

“I never saw a passport until they handed me my black diplomatic passport,” he said.

During his career as a Foreign Service Officer he lived in 10 different countries over the course of his 30-year career, and spent about 29 of those 30 years outside of the U.S.

Today, McClellan spends his days at WKU working as Diplomat-in-Residence, helping students who are interested in diplomacy and other international careers. He was born in the area and grew up in Richardsville, which is just outside of Bowling Green. Working at WKU, he said, is a way for him to give back to his community.

In his work at WKU, McClellan helps students express their goals and experiences in their application process, according to a written statement made by Andrea Cheney, Assistant Director of International Programs at WKU.

When he advises students, McClellan’s suggestion for those interested in working outside of the U.S. was find an opportunity to get out of the U.S. and get experience in international work. International careers aren’t for everybody, according to McClellan, but the best way to figure that out is to travel abroad.

“Go anywhere just to get out of the country and do international work,” he said.

WKU sophomore JayTodd Richey took this advice after meeting with McClellan last fall.

Richey is a Political Science major and contacted McClellan to explore his options for internships in Washington D.C. when McClellan suggested he apply for international internships as well.

“He opened up a door to a career path I’d never considered before,” said Richey.

Richey was recently accepted for the U.S. Department of State 2015 Summer Internship Program in Beijing, China, which is one of the most difficult internships to get, according to McClellan.

Although he didn’t take his own advice and left to work outside of the U.S. without ever having traveled abroad, McClellan learned that he loved it once he started.

“When I got to Yemen I was never ever homesick in my entire 30 year career,” he said.