In her job as a United States Foreign Service Officer, Victoria Tyszka Cedeño ’06 knows diplomacy and policy-making are a team effort. Still, one of the best feelings she gets is when the Secretary of State or Ambassador to the United Nations reads a speech she wrote.
“I provide talking points for some extremely high level folks, and I really enjoy seeing the decisions and the outcomes,” Cedeño said. “There’s a really fun element of shaping policy and bringing about change in some way, even though you’re only part of the system and part of a group effort.”
Cedeño has worked for the U.S. Department of State for seven years and currently serves as a political officer for the U.S. Embassy in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. She has lived in the African nation for almost a year now and has also completed assignments in Lebanon, Colombia, and the United States. Though the job requires extensive travel, Cedeño embraces the opportunity to see the world and explore different cultures.
In fact, being a frequent traveler is nothing new for Cedeño. As the daughter of a French mother and American father, she grew up bilingual and bi-national. She lived in Paris until age 14, when she and her family moved to Detroit, Michigan. At Randolph, her fascination with other cultures grew, and her professors and study abroad experience in Prague gave her new perspective about the world.
“The courses and professors were so provocative and really challenged our points of view, our knowledge, and our approach to any issue that we could possibly encounter,” she said. “You were expected to contribute in every class, and you were expected to have done the homework and to share your opinions. I think it really helped me develop a sense of confidence that I probably wouldn’t have had without my studies there. There were some professors who really helped me become who I am, and I will always be grateful.”
After earning a degree in international studies and political science, Cedeño joined the Peace Corps and served as an education volunteer for two years in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. She then returned to the United States and earned her master’s degree in international affairs from George Washington University. In her three internships there, she was particularly fascinated by the energy sector and its role in the global economy.
“I had a really strong interest in government and democracy that led me to the National Democratic Institute,” she said. “As I was earning my master’s degree, it was great to get experience that aligned with some of the courses I was taking.”
Following graduate school, the State Department was one of five career paths Cedeño was considering. Today, she can’t imagine doing anything else.
“It’s hard to bank on getting a job with the State Department because it’s a really long hiring process,” she said. “But in the end, it was the right option that came up at the right time, and now I have to say I’m quite fond of the work and love my job.”