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Moving from the military to diplomacy — via Northeastern

Michael Trudeau conducted deep-sea dives as a sonar officer with the U.S. Navy, the longest of which kept him underwater for 57 days. Now Trudeau, 28, is majoring in political science at Northeastern University through the federal government’s Yellow Ribbon Program, working to transition from a military career into one in security studies and diplomacy.

And he’s well on track to do just that. Trudeau starts a co-op next month as a research assistant for Northeastern’s George J. Kostas Research Institute for Homeland Security. In May, he traveled to Chicago for the Young Atlanticist Summit, where his leadership role with Northeastern’s Model NATO delegation netted him an exclusive opportunity to attend talks and mingle with the likes of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and former Secretary of State Madeline Albright.

“It was an excellent educational opportunity for me,” Trudeau said of the conference, which gave students throughout the nation a chance to learn about the Atlantic Council, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that promotes U.S. engagement in international affairs. “I got an excellent perspective of what these top leaders were thinking.”

One key issue discussed at the conference — which was scheduled to coincide with a NATO Summit in Chicago — was America’s shift in foreign policy from Europe to Asia.

Albright addressed the topic in detail. “She said that while our focus may be shifting, our attentions to Europe won’t go away,” Trudeau explained. “She also stressed that America’s strategic policies should look into the future about 15 or 20 years, not just aim to be quick fixes.”

Trudeau is president of Northeastern’s Student Veterans Organization, which aims to improve college life for students who have served in the military. The organization focuses on issues such as financial aid, housing and academics.

Trudeau said his experience with the Young Atlanticist Program would inform his role with Northeastern’s Model NATO program, which took top honors at a conference held in Washington earlier this year. Next year, the group will represent Italy and Latvia in competitions.

“We’re already so focused on the issues facing NATO, so to get an experience like this, it will only strengthen what we’re already doing,” he said.