A Career without Borders
Every job has its challenges, but how many involve mediating a dispute between Venezuelans and Americans, fighting against human trafficking in Cyprus, or promoting America’s interests at the United Nations? As a foreign service officer working for the US Department of State, Jason Chue 96OX 98C must “analyze issues on the spot and think critically”—skills he honed at Oxford and Emory. “A liberal arts degree was perfect preparation for life as a diplomat. I regularly draw on my studies in psychology, linguistics, and theater,” he said.
Foreign service officers represent the interests of the US and Americans abroad, whether that means processing visas, facilitating business operations, or helping a fellow American in a difficult situation. Chue has been assigned to Venezuela and Cyprus; his next assignment will be in Taiwan. While assigned to Venezuela, he made travel arrangements for an American after a yachting accident left the man comatose. The man’s Venezuelan friends, believing they were acting in his best interests, attempted to keep him in Venezuela, in defiance of his family’s wishes. Chue helped negotiate the situation, visited him in the hospital, and helped get him back to the US.
Growing up in New York City, Chue attended Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan with more than three thousand other students. How did a boy from the big city end up in Oxford, Georgia? “I’d applied almost exclusively to Northeast schools, but while visiting Oxford, I was offered a full Robert W. Woodruff scholarship. That tipped the scales. I very much appreciated that and never looked back.”
The transition to life in a small Southern town wasn’t easy, but Chue came to appreciate the “strong sense of community at Oxford” and the opportunities to interact with professors outside of class. Asked which professors inspired him, he replied, “Where do I start?” and followed with a gratitude list that could rival an Oscar acceptance speech. “I have so many positive memories of professors like Patti Owen-Smith, Clark Lemons, and Delia Nisbet, who provided mentorship and had real passion for their areas of study,” Chue said.
After graduating from Emory, Chue pursued a law degree at Columbia Law School. He received a JD and was working in the profession when 9/11 happened. Like many, the tragedy prompted Chue to reexamine his life. Realizing that he wasn’t passionate about commercial litigation and that “time is short,” he changed direction and found the “perfect fit” in the US Foreign Service.
Chue, who speaks more than five languages, says foreign language courses were his “most valuable and practical” classes and encourages students to study a language. “We’re competing against workers from all countries,” he said. He also urges students to look beyond a traditional career track. “Emory has great resources to help students pursue a nontraditional path.” As Chue knows, there are no limits to where you can go when you follow the path less taken.