A Gustie Dives Into Global Citizenship and DiplomacyHow Abby Joy Neptun '24 spent her summer seeing a whole new world from her hometown of Chicago
Posted on September 7th, 2023 by

Abby Joy Neptun '24 helped her World Chicago team work with delegations from across the globe.

A significant part of the Gustavus vision statement prepares and implores our students to “act on the great challenges of our time.” Abby Joy Neptun ’24 spent summer 2023 doing just that.

The Communication Studies major and Political Science minor was a program assistant for World Chicago, a 70-year-old nonprofit organization funded by the U.S. State Department that’s dedicated to fostering global citizen diplomacy through a variety of programs and initiatives. Some funding from the Gustavus Career Center helped Neptun be able to afford to accept the internship and work full time. “I told them I wanted to work nine to five, Monday through Friday, and I’ll work until September 1, and they said, ‘Great, we’d love to have you,’” she said. “So it’s a nice long internship that allows me to network with other Chicago organizations, which is great.” 

Her primary role was to be a field reporter, taking pictures of people, meetings, and events and writing stories for World Chicago’s social platforms. But internships typically have an “additional duties as assigned” component, and in true Gustie fashion Neptun jumped in with both feet. On day one she found herself joining the organization’s president for a board meeting and reception. “I was really nervous, but I helped set up this board meeting,” she said. “Afterwards, I tagged along for a reception, thinking it would be good for me to meet people who I’m working with. We walked into the room, which was in somebody’s penthouse. Finally, I turned to my coworker and asked where are we right now? He said, ‘Oh, we’re in the Turkish Consulate General’s penthouse.’ And I ended up having a 30-minute conversation with the Turkish Consulate General. All on the first day. I felt like a fish out of water, but it was also one of those experiences where I was thinking it was the coolest thing I’ve ever done.”

Throughout the summer, Neptun met and worked with delegations from such far-flung locales as Poland and Nigeria, creating cultural exchanges and connecting the visitors with Chicago-based organizations and experts who focus on everything from substance abuse issues to the ethics of AI. “[The guests] would have conversations with different organizations to see what strategies they’re using, and then go back and implement them at home,” said Neptun, who also helped give a presentation about citizen diplomacy and studying abroad to Chicago high school students. “That was really rewarding because it’s a bunch of students who are from less-fortunate communities in this area, but they were able to hear about all of the opportunities that can come from studying away,” she said.

Professional diplomacy and its offshoots are high on Neptun’s list of future interests, and her experience with World Chicago cemented that. She also has a fellowship this fall with Emily’s List, which helps prepare and elect pro-choice women to public office. “[After graduation] I’m thinking of doing something in the political sphere,” Neptun said. “I would really love to run for office at the state or federal level, but I could also end up in journalism. I’m just seeing where life takes me.”


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Luc Hatlestad


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