Reuben Brigety II never fabricated Eagle Scout.
“It still rankles, to this day,” he says, laughing.
But he can allow to chuckle, with a resume like his. One warning, though: If you’re decumbent to animosity of backbiting or inferiority, this adventure may aloof aggravate them.
Brigety has gone from Sandalwood High Academy in Jacksonville to the U.S. Naval Academy.
From a scholarship to Cambridge University, accustomed anniversary year to one Annapolis grad, to a gig at the Pentagon.
From adept missions for all-embracing aid groups to academy abettor [tough but fair, a “freaking genius, absolutely attainable and a absolutely nice person,” according to comments at ratemyprofessors.com].
Now he’s U.S. Agent Abettor Secretary of Accompaniment Reuben Brigety II. A political appointee, he’s in the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, absorption on Africa and the millions of displaced bodies on that continent.
“Everyone’s called Reuben as addition who’s on a brief rise,” said Nancy Soderberg, a above affiliate of the U.S. mission to the United Nations, now a acclaimed visiting academic at UNF. “He’s absolutely addition to accumulate your eye on. He’ll shoot up the ladder, either in Accompaniment or the White House. You watch him.”
Brigety keeps a animated schedule: We bent up with him on the blast from Washington, D.C., afterwards a multi-day cruise to Africa and appropriate afore an brief adept mission to Geneva.
His adolescence able him for this affectionate of life.
“I anticipate I’m absolutely abundant added aerial now than aback I was a kid,” he said.
‘A baby kid with big dreams’
The son of Reuben Brigety, a physician, and Barbara Brigety, an drillmaster and academy administrator, he was in Sandalwood’s concert band, on the agitation aggregation and the clue team. He was admiral of the accompaniment Latin affiliation and was Sandalwood’s salutatorian. He formed on a citywide interfaith group. He was a Boy Scout but, aback he absitively on the Naval Academy, he detoured into the Sea Cadet Corps in Mayport (which explains the Eagle Scout lapse).
N. Wyman Winbush II remembers him as a angular jailbait in their Fort Caroline neighborhood, “a baby kid with big dreams that accept been fulfilled.”
Brigety and his ancestor addled up a chat with Winbush afterwards spotting the Naval Academy alum sticker on his car. Brigety, again 14, was already bedevilled of a abysmal voice, and he apprenticed Winbush for every bit of admonition on how to get into the academy.
Winbush has kept in touch, through Brigety’s time at Annapolis – area he was one of two army commanders in his admission year – to the present day.
He believes Brigety is apprenticed by the aforementioned motivations he had as a advanced teenager. “He has consistently had a affection for humanity, aggravating to advance compassionate amid assorted folks,” he said. “This is not a new begin passion, is what I’m saying.”
Barbara Brigety puts it simply: “He aloof capital to be the best at whatever he set out to be.”
Brigety himself says the key was deciding, at 14, that he capital to go to the Naval Academy. If you’re austere about that, your activity changes, he said: “You end up internalizing the ethics that go with that.”
After admission as a Acclaimed Naval Graduate, he served in the Pentagon as a speechwriter and analyst. Again through a scholarship from Academy alumni, he spent two years on scholarship at Cambridge, accepting a master’s amount in all-embracing relations. Afterward that, he went aback on alive duty, training to be a abysmal officer.
He kept thinking, however, about some of his classmates at Cambridge, all-embracing acceptance who had suffered politically and physically in conflicts in their home countries.
“What all that accomplished me was, behindhand of the amends of a cause, the assured aftereffect of all war is that it harms civilians, no amount how adamantine we try.”
He became bedeviled with altruistic causes, he says, and asked for and accustomed an atonement acquittal so he could acknowledgment to Cambridge for his doctorate in all-embracing relations.
He offered to pay aback the amount of his Naval Academy education, but his action was not accepted. “As a amount of candor I knew that was the appropriate affair to do,” he said. “They would all say that I am afterward through with the mission.”
Since accepting his doctorate, he’s accounting and announced about the accent of attention civilians in wartime. It’s acutely a altruistic issue, he says – but it’s additionally one that’s strategically important to the interests of the United States.
Take Afghanistan, area achievement will alone come, he said, “if we can argue the citizenry that their best absorption is in accepting America as a acquaintance rather than the Taliban.”
It’s vital, he said.
“This is not an aerial theory, a Birkenstock, tie-dye theory. That’s the position of our aggressive and the advantageous accepted on the arena – that adeptness to authenticate that you’re bigger off with America as your friend.”
In a position to advice people
As agent abettor secretary of state, Brigety works with all-embracing aid groups and adopted governments in Africa, aggravating to advance altitude for millions of bodies displaced by political or bread-and-er difficulties.
His focus is on areas such as Somalia, the Darfur arena of Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Challenging places, all of them.
Consider the Dadaab refugee camps in eastern Kenya, home to 270,000 bodies beat the Islamic affront in adjoining Somalia. The camps were meant to authority aloof 90,000.
Brigety formed to advice get added acreage to aggrandize the camps, which will anon be able to booty addition 80,000 refugees. Good news, but difficulties remain: Kenya is afraid to accommodate the refugees into their country, and it’s too alarming for them to acknowledgment home.
Yet it’s vital, he says, for the U.S. to accumulate alive on acutely cutting situations such as this: Crumbling nations area agitation rules are huge threats to American security, so its efforts are not absolutely idealistic.
That fits in with his access to his work. He’s not an idealist, he says. “I accede myself a businesslike idealist.”
Brigety’s wife, Leelie Selassie, came to America at age 4 aback her ancestors fled a Communist anarchy in Ethiopia. She’s now a physician, a critical-care doctor.
Their sons, Roebel, 5, and Redda Alem, 2, accept names from his wife’s built-in Amharic language.
“Redda Alem agency ‘he helped the world.’ So, no burden on the kid,” said Brigety.
Roebel, meanwhile, translates to Reuben.
“I grew up as Reuben II, and I anticipation any son of abundance would be Reuben the third,” Brigety said. “That was an acceptance I had until I met my wife, who disabused me of that notion.”
Roebel has a map in his bedroom, with his father’s campaign apparent with pins. He wants to be a Coast Guard helicopter pilot. And he had this abstraction afterwards the Haiti convulsion in January, aback his ancestor was answerable with arch the Accompaniment Department’s affairs to advice clean the country:
If he were in the Coast Guard now, he could use his helicopter to advice the bodies of Haiti.
Brigety was moved. “He gets it,” he said.
He credits his own parents, who grew up in a absolute South, for abstraction how he sees the world.
“They were trailblazers in their own rights, and as such consistently encouraged me to be on the ancillary of amusing justice. But in a way area you’re not on the ramparts and afire bottomward halls, but in a way that’s instructive,” he said.
There’s a affiche he keeps in his office, picturing a mountain, with this saying: “Beaten paths are for baffled men.”
It’s a little corny, perhaps, but he’s appreciative of it.
“That’s something,” he said, “that reminds me of my parents.”
[email protected], (904) 359-4082
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