Invasion of Privacy: Professor discovers true calling through travel, assisting refugees

Prior to his career in academia, political science and international relations lecturer Jeremy Grace worked overseas to help protect the political rights of refugees. Grace attributes finding the career of his dreams to his experiences working in politics abroad ( Udeshi Seneviratne/photo editor).

Lecturer in Political Science and International Relations Jeremy Grace is more than just a professor. Grace has travelled the world, making sure that refugees and the forcibly displaced have their political rights protected.  

Before coming to Geneseo, Grace worked on post-conflict democratization and refugee projects for a variety of intergovernmental organizations. Grace came across a career that he is extremely passionate about by accident while getting his master’s degree in international affairs at American University. 

Grace was originally interested in sustainability, the relationship between global trading issues, environmental protection and labor right’s standards.

While working on his degree, Grace was offered an internship at a think-tank in Washington D.C. that focused on development policy. The first project Grace was assigned was at the World Bank. 

When the project came to a close, he was assigned to a different project on international conflict prevention and post-conflict reconstruction. Grace spent roughly five months working on the project. Following its completion, his boss offered him the position of election observer for the 1996 Bosnian election. 

The Dayton Peace Agreement had just ended the Bosnian War and the elections were going to be run as part of the post conflict democratization process. Grace flew to Bosnia, a country shattered by the horrors of war. He learned how to be an election observer, checked boxes and ran around polling stations asking questions. 

Through this experience, Grace discovered his true calling and now studies the international community’s response in the context of collapsed states. His research explores how one can help all the different domains of post-conflict reconstruction so that people can rebuild their lives and move forward. 

After the election, Grace decided he wanted to stay abroad in Bosnia. He stayed in Sarajevo and started knocking on doors to find his next job. The first place to offer him a position was the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. The organization had a subsequent round of local elections in Bosnia that they were organizing, and Grace was assigned to work with local authorities to implement the elections. 

Grace was asked to organize the out-of-country voting for Bosnian refugees and was sent to work in Croatia. Over the next couple of months, he became the out-of-country OSCE representative in Croatia, working with the Croatian government to make sure that Bosnian refugees were able to participate in the elections. This job helped launch the career Grace has today and helped him realize his passion for international politics. 

“So many students come in and say that they do not know what they want to do, and I tell them it does not matter. I tell students to keep their eyes open and focus on just delivering when people ask you things, even if it seems like boring work or not meaningful to you,” Grace said. “It is the people who go above and beyond, keeping their eyes open for opportunity, who will have these amazing accidental careers.” 

Through immersing himself abroad while taking advantage of some amazing opportunities, Grace was able to discover the career of his dreams. Grace did not expect to end up where he is now, but he recognized his interest and pursued it. Grace’s career has been filled with amazing experiences because he found something that he believes in and loves.