To say that Stevie Hamilton (MALD ’02) is a frequent world traveler would be an understatement—he’s filled up two official U.S. passports and two diplomatic passports. And even after being in so many countries over so many years, either as U.S. State Department foreign affairs officer or as military attaché with the U.S. Air Force Reserves, there’s one thing that continues to amaze him:
“Every place I went in the military, on active duty or as a reservist, I’ve always met two or three Fletcher alumni. Whether they were working in the U.S. embassy, or they were in the foreign ministry where I was, or they were working in NGOs, that network has made me more valuable to my organization, to whatever mission I was accomplishing more than anything else,” he says. “I may not have graduated with them, but as soon as they found out I was an alum, that opened doors that would have never been opened.”
Even before arriving at Fletcher in 2000, Hamilton was a veteran world traveler. A self-described “military brat” originally from Louisiana, Hamilton’s father and step-father were both in the U.S. Air Force, and he lived in at least six countries around the world before he decided to enroll in the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado for undergraduate study. The academy didn’t fit him, however, and he switched to Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia on an ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) scholarship, studying political science and minoring in international studies. As a fellow in what used to be called the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship Program, he attended a summer institute at the University of California, Berkeley between his junior and senior year. There he met Fletcher Admissions Director Laurie Hurley who persuaded him to apply to Fletcher.
Hurley was “like a second mother to me. She was probably the most powerful nonacademic [at Fletcher],” he says. “I can’t thank her enough for the opportunity she gave me. She was amazing.”
While in Medford, Hamilton concentrated on international negotiations and conflict resolution and international security studies, ultimately doing a “Comparative Assessment of African Security Regimes” for his thesis. Security Studies Professor Richard Shultz and Professor of International Law Ian Johnstone (currently Fletcher’s Academic Dean) were his advisors.
Having received his officer’s commission just prior to Fletcher, Hamilton found himself immediately attending military intelligence school after graduation and then serving at his first duty station at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas. During the four years there he had deployments to Bosnia and the Middle East.
In 2005, he moved to Washington where he initially did counterterrorism work for the Justice Department and then, as a Reserve officer, was deployed around the world mainly as a military attaché in U.S. embassies in countries including Mali, Kenya, Uganda and South Africa. In October 2011, after nearly five years of working for U.S. Special Operations Command, he joined the U.S. State Department, first in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security and then in the Center for Counterterrorism Strategic Communications.
His main responsibilities these days include developing communications plans and operations strategies to counter extremist and violent rhetoric of Al-Qaida and related groups. In the spring of 2012, he was in Mali when soldiers there mutinied and overthrew the government.
“My time at Fletcher, pursuing specific fields of study, it all came home in my thesis,” he says. “Having had experience on the ground in Africa, it definitely was amazing to really be able to apply that knowledge, all that theory, that research, really solve facts on the ground, identify plans, implement solutions to address real current problems.”
Hamilton says much of his work in Washington today involves “interagency” collaboration, with each agency having a different workplace culture and often what seems like a different language. As often as not, the work involves negotiation, something that his coursework with Professor Eileen Babbitt taught him.
“If there’s one course that should be mandatory, it’s [Babbitt’s negotiation] course. You need that skill no matter what. It applies across the board,” he says. “As long as you’re interacting with human beings you have got to understand the art of negotiation, to resolve conflicts from a personal level to a national level.”
Regardless of where they end up, Fletcher students, prospective, alumni or otherwise, should always remember the strongest aspect of the Fletcher experience:
“Do not underestimate the power of the Fletcher mafia. What I mean by that is take time to maintain those relationships with your classmates, and don’t be afraid to meet as many alums, no matter what year you graduated, because they will welcome you with open arms,” he advises. “That will be the biggest resource Fletcher has to offer.”
--Mike Eckel (F13)