Alumni Spotlight: Sophie Rutenbar

Posted by McDermott Scholars


This was written for the Eugene McDermott Scholars Program Alumni Association’s most recently published newsletter. Learn more about the McDermott Alumni here!

Sophie Rutenbar

Name: Sophie Rutenbar

Nicknames: Soph, if you’re my mother

Spouse/kids/pets (and if so, names): Two cats, a brother and sister named Moxy and Foxy (no, I didn’t choose the names, which are actually a pretty poor reflection of their personalities)

Class: 2002

Major: Government and politics, with a concentration in global politics

Graduate school and degree (if applicable): M.A. Conflict, Security and Development, Kings College London; M.Sc. Human Rights, London School of Economics

Hometown: Richardson, Texas

Home teams: I’ll cheer for the Rangers and Mavs any day!

Current location: New York City

Occupation: I help create policy for the fourteen UN peacekeeping operations deployed around the world. What this means is that I get to shape and influence peacekeeping policy debates and peacekeeping reform; think about the changing nature of armed conflict and emerging challenges for peacekeeping; and help come up with new approaches to peacekeeping.

Coolest part about your job: Researching and engaging in blue sky thinking about new aspects of armed conflict.

Dream end-of-career job: Hard to say – perhaps Assistant Secretary-General for peacekeeping operations or Assistant Secretary of State for Conflict and Stabilization Operations, or perhaps just a research consultant studying really interesting things.

Future non-career ambitions: Complete the open water swimming Triple Crown (I swam the English Channel several years ago), thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (hoping to do a portion of it next summer).

Outside talents (e.g. sports, music, theater, trivia…): Swimming, rock climbing, running slowly, reading lots, and beating most people at board games (except Walter Voit ’01).

The most dangerous/exciting thing you’ve done: For the former, watching tracer rounds fly overhead in Juba in March 2014. For the latter, watching the Parker Solar Probe take flight atop a Delta IV Heavy rocket at Cape Canaveral (my super smart sister worked on the guidance, navigation and control system for stage 3 of the launch).  

One surprising thing Alumni wouldn’t know about you: I took a mini-John Steinbeck pilgrimage to Salinas and Monterey Bay, CA, a couple years ago.

Favorite part about UTD: The people. Running the loop around campus. Also, the pool is a hidden and underutilized gem (I’m afraid to put this out there!)

Favorite McDermott memory: Climbing the hilltop above St. John’s College in Santa Fe one night during our orientation, then listening to Bobby Janecka ’02 telling ghost stories while Cheng Lee ’02 threw rocks and made scary noises in the bushes.

What you want to tell the McDermott Scholars: Savor this chance to branch out and do something completely different (hopefully many things). Who knows, maybe you’ll change your mind about that career – I know I did as a McDermott.

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