New Talents for a post-Cold War world

Published: June 24th, 2008

Category: Spotlights

Jessica Ducey

Jessica Ducey

College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Statistically, she’s safer in Israel than she is driving down Interstate 75.

At least that’s what Jessica Ducey tells her father when she talks about her upcoming summer-abroad journey to Israel and Palestine.

Ducey, 21, is a University of Florida senior, double majoring in psychology and history and minoring in Arabic language and literature. After graduation in spring 2007, she hopes to attend Oxford University for her master’s degree in modern Middle East studies.

As Ducey sees it, Arabic and Middle Eastern studies are wide-open fields sorely in need of new talent

“There are not enough people who speak Arabic and understand the culture,” she said. “It’s such a new region of interest.”

Ducey once considered working as a profiler for the FBI, but after traveling abroad she realized her real dream job would be working with U.S. government intelligence.

“I see problems with what’s going on in the government and how they’re handling the situation in the Middle East because we are in such a transitional phase,” she said.

Ducey’s first encounter with Arabic culture was on a trip last summer to Morocco, which she found interesting because of its vast European influence meshed with a devout Muslim population.

After she returns her from summer in Israel, Ducey plans to study in Jordan next spring and eventually war-torn Iraq to help with reconstruction efforts.

“What happens there will set the stage for Middle East democracy, and it will be so exciting to be at the forefront of that,” she said.

As part of her career path development, she interned for the FBI’s National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime’s counterterrorism unit this spring and witnessed firsthand the need for government officials with a knowledge of the culture, a need that was not as prevalent prior to Sept. 11.

“I won’t have a problem finding a job after graduation,” she said, “because the United States government realizes it won’t survive without people who speak Arabic.”

Photo credit: Ray Carson, Kristen Bartlett Grace — University Photography

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