Historically, we picture a mission field as a far-flung place where people need saving. But for many Union students like international relations major Jonathan Deemer, the mission field is everywhere: in our government, in our schools, in our businesses, in our neighborhoods. The mission field encompasses both the far-flung and our backyard.
Deemer’s journey will take him overseas to an internship at the United States European Command in Stuttgart, Germany this summer.
But Deemer’s journey to Germany began with a major detour.
Before graduating high school in Lincoln, Neb., he applied to the United States Air Force Academy—a rigorous process with a low acceptance rate.
Deemer was accepted. He started his studies at the Air Force Academy directly out of high school, but returned home for personal reasons after only one month at the Academy.
Jonathan’s journey was rerouted.
Fortunately, Union College held a scholarship for him, and after starting at Union that August, he subsequently enrolled in the United States Marine Corps Platoon Leaders Course, a nationwide program for college students who wish to become commissioned officers in the Marine Corps.
“My plan is to go to law school,” Deemer explained. “I have a law contract with the Marine Corps; that means, once I graduate law school, I will become a Judge Advocate. My plan is to do that for four years. Then I’d like to work in the State Department’s Office of the Legal Adviser for law enforcement and intelligence working on things like treaty negotiations, international terrorism laws, and criminal proceedings with foreign policy implications.”
To achieve these goals, Deemer is double majoring in international relations and business finance.
When asked what drew him to international relations, Deemer said, “Being able to understand headlines and being able to understand why things happen, especially on a global scale.”
Union professor Christopher Banks, who founded the program, agrees: “If you can understand the news, I’ve done my job. Part of the thrill of international relations is real time events.”
Banks launched the international relations program at Union College, the first offered at an Adventist college or university, because he saw a gap—a discrepancy between diplomacy in the secular world and diplomacy in the Seventh-day Adventist global church. Knowing what the church stands for and knowing what we have to offer the world, he wondered, “How can I get these two worlds interconnected? Where is our international relations program?”
Classes covering regions such as Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, Middle East, North Atlantic, and East and Southeast Asia prepared Deemer for some prestigious internships.
He interned with Nebraska Senator Brett Lindstrom the summer of his freshman year.
He interned with United States Senator for Nebraska Ben Sasse the summer of his sophomore year.
He is currently working on a remote internship with the Hudson Institute Center for Political and Military Analysis, a non-profit think tank headquartered in Washington, D.C., where he works with the center’s director researching topics like Russian Chinese defense cooperation and Uzbekistan’s military developments.
He will be in Stuttgart, Germany, this summer interning at the headquarters of United States European Command. (While the exact department he will be working with is yet to be assigned, he believes he’ll intern with the J5/8 directorate: Policies, Strategy, Partnering and Capabilities.)
Deemer’s journey is just beginning.
These opportunities put him in the perfect position to go into the world and be a changemaker, which is exactly what Professor Banks challenges his students to do. “My job,” he said, “is to sharpen students’ logic, to sharpen their critical thinking skills and analysis, and to show them the logical process to discover the answer for themselves. If we ask the right questions, know the process in which to do so, and grab God’s hand, we can’t go wrong. And that’s the beauty of the international relations program: it provides the world with an alternative way of understanding itself.”
The international relations degree offered at Union College teaches the principles of diplomacy and foreign policy and provides insights into international politics and institutions. Job possibilities include diplomacy, lobbying, political analysis, international law, intelligence, and business consulting. With the ever-growing interconnected global economy these skills are increasingly valuable to governments and businesses.
The journey for Deemer and his fellow students in the international relations program at Union is a global journey filled with opportunities to begin reshaping their world:
- Karen Braga recently finished a high-level internship with CYC Magnet Industries, a major Chinese magnet manufacturer in Shanghai, China. She now works in London on an internship with British communications firm SayComms.
- Maylina Graham assists in the public relations and marketing department of the Atlanta-based refugee organization FREE REFUGEES.
- Senga Rutebuka attended the 2016 United Nations Association of the United States Leadership Summit that was held in Washington, D.C., and has been the catalyst for establishing a chapter of the United Nations Association at Union College in the 2017-2018 school year.
Banks believes the Seventh-day Adventist Church has a message and the international relations program prepares students to be the couriers of that message.
“Union is working on how international relations can grow from the soil of what Christ has given us to take this life-giving message to a world that is dying,” he explained.
And the students of Union College’s international relations program are going into the world and, armed with the tools to understand and the background of a strong Christ-centered program, they are ready to do the work.
By Trena Smith Reed