Ryan Hanlon, a 2012 graduate of Drake Law School, is about to embark on another chapter in his life. As a newly commissioned Foreign Service Officer with the United States Department of State, he is currently finishing his initial training at the Department of State and National Foreign Affairs Training Center in Arlington, VA. In August, he will be departing for a two-year assignment to the U.S. Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica. The following is a short interview with Ryan about this position.
What is the most exciting aspect of your new job?
“All aspects of the new job are exciting! The process of becoming a Foreign Service Officer was lengthy, taking more than a year. It included multiple test, interviews, and a comprehensive national security background investigation. When I got my official job offer, I was ecstatic. The excitement of being hired has transferred into excitement about being assigned in Jamaica. I look forward to learning about the country, culture, and people of Jamaica while also working to meet my mission as a U.S. Diplomat to ‘promote peace, support prosperity, and protect American citizens while advancing the interests of the U.S. abroad’. This kind of opportunity is what attracted me to the Foreign Service, and it is one that will be replicated in locations around the globe throughout my career.”
How did Drake Law School help you achieve your career goals?
“I have always had an interest in international issues. Prior to Drake Law, I was an enlisted member of the Army, deploying several times to Afghanistan and Iraq. I loved being in the Army, but had always had a strong desire to pursue a legal education, so I decided to leave active duty and attend Drake Law. Drake and the greater Des Moines area provided the ideal combination of a collegial Midwest atmosphere and challenging academic environment. Originally from Iowa, but having been gone for several years, I was surprised by the substantial international connections that Des Moines boasts. The summer after my first year, I took advantage of Drake Law’s fantastic “Summer in France” program, which provided a meaningful overseas academic experience appropriately tailored for graduate level Study Abroad. I actively participated in student organizations such as the International Law Society and Military Law Student Association. I attended International Law Conferences and volunteered with the World Food Prize based in Des Moines. These experiences and more allowed me to gain an appreciation of the government and international work opportunities available to Drake Law students both before and after graduation. Drake Law has a Faculty and Staff who shared my passion of international studies, travel, and work. I always found an open office door which I could walk through to gain insights and perspective as I was developing a post-graduation plan. The people of Drake Law were truly instrumental in assisting me as I navigated towards my current career path.”
What advice do you have for prospective students?
“Understanding that there many options for a prospective law student, I always advocate that Drake Law School is unique in its connection with the local Iowa community while also providing a wealth of knowledge and opportunity for those looking beyond the state or international borders. So long as one has the passion, Drake Law can provide the framework from which a student can develop, articulate and achieve their goals.”