Nancy Soderberg, former Ambassador to the United Nations, is a Distinguished Visiting Scholar and director of UNF's Public Service Leadership Program, which she founded in 2006. Soderberg's extensive contacts in government and the nonprofit world have helped create a network of opportunities for UNF students to gain firsthand experience in the field, building their resume and contacts. With more than 30 years of experience in foreign policy, she has served on four presidential campaigns, in the White House and as president and CEO of her international consulting firm. Soderberg publishes and speaks widely on national security policy. She is the author of two books on foreign policy and numerous articles. She is a regular commentator on national and international television and radio.
Get to Know Ambassador Nancy Soderberg
What courses do you teach?
Global Issues and Real World Policy. I have also taught International Law. Global Issues is a round-the-world tour of key issues and why students need to pay attention to world events (they all affect you!), and Real World Policy is an intense course that looks at how U.S. foreign policy is made, role playing National Security Council meetings, and writing a policy paper which we then present in D.C. to a variety of officials.
Who has been the biggest role model in your life?
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was my professor in graduate school at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. I was earning a degree in development economics but she urged me to go into politics. Never having had any experience in that, I was pretty skeptical. But I ended up working as an intern in the Mondale presidential campaign in 1983-84. I never really left politics after that.
What’s one thing in your field of study that people might not know?
The people in government are actually good, hard working people grappling with tough problems. Ignore the headlines of people who makes mistakes and look deeper into the hard work millions do every day to keep this country safe and prosperous.
What’s the most rewarding academic experience you’ve had at UNF in or out of the classroom?
Watching students realize they can compete in the field of public service. My Real World Policy class puts students in front of officials and recent UNF alums who work in Congress, in the Pentagon, State Department and nonprofits. We have scholarships to make internships possible — and then they are off!
What do you like most about UNF?
The students. Many are the first in their family to go to college or refugees, and most work almost full time. So they are stretched very thin — but work hard to get a great education. My favorite ones are those who have the guts to take my Real World Policy class and/or do tough internships competing with Ivy League grad students — and find they are just as good if not better! They’ve had to work harder to get where they are and will change the world.
What advice would you give a student who is about to graduate?
Follow your heart over your head. If you love what you do, it will never feel like a job. And you’ll be better at it than some job you “have” to do. So, before you graduate, do a lot of internships to test drive various careers. And there are scholarships to help you do them. How else will you know what you want to do when you graduate? Get out there and try things — until you find something you love.