State Department honors Northwestern study abroad security director

Emily Chin, Assistant Campus Editor

When Julie Friend found out about the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris earlier this month, the first thing she thought was to make sure the four Northwestern students studying abroad there were safe.

Friend, NU’s director of global safety and security, in November was awarded the Technical Advisor Achievement Award from the U.S. State Department’s Overseas Security Advisory Council for her work in addressing safety issues for students studying abroad, the University announced this month.

Friend serves as one of 34 members of the OSAC leadership board, part of the security department within the State Department. OSAC draws members from academia, corporations, religious groups and non-governmental organizations.

“I think what’s most important is it’s the first time a member of academia has been recognized in this role,” Friend said, “and what’s exciting about that is it demonstrates that the State Department, as well as my colleagues who work in other sectors, recognize the impact that academia is having on the international community.”

Rich Davis, managing director of corporate security at United Airlines, presented Friend with the award. He works with OSAC to make sure pilots and flight attendants are safe when they fly internationally.

“We’re both very proud to be on that council and working very closely with the State Department,” he said.

As a technical adviser on OSAC, Friend’s role is to advise the council on security interests for the academic sector. She also recruits other colleges and universities to become members of OSAC.

“I’m just not somebody who’s going to sit and be really passive,” she said. “They wanted me to tell them things and help develop products and resources, so I did it.”

Friend first got involved with OSAC when she was working as an international analyst at Michigan State University’s study abroad office. One OSAC member, Greg Hoobler, encouraged Friend to join in order to better engage the academic community, Friend said.

“What stands out about Julie is her participation with both the committees and the councils, very strong and very vocal contributions,” Davis said.

This year Friend formed the Africa Regional Council, which had its first worldwide meeting at NU in March 2014. Friend was able to get several hundred people from around the globe to attend the meeting, Davis said.

OSAC also holds college health, safety and security seminars twice a year, which teach colleges and universities how to use State Department resources when looking at international environments, Friend said.

Friend receives emails from OSAC twice a day highlighting security issues of the day. She then decides whether or not they impact students studying abroad in those particular locations.

“Students will only continue to go abroad if they have the support of their families, and their families have to feel like their student is really safe,” she said.

Despite risks, Friend highly encourages students to study abroad because she sees it as a larger diplomatic effort.

“We have students who go overseas and they participate in communities, and buy things in shops and make friends with their neighbors and families that they stay with,” she said. “It’s all part of our effort to make friends with the world.”

Friend studied abroad in France, which influenced her decision to work in study abroad, she said. Initially, she taught English as a second language, and planned excursions for her students over the weekends. She said planning these excursions was rewarding, and made her realize that’s where she wanted to concentrate her efforts.

Friend said she also likes working with students and helping them reach their goals.

“It’s really exciting to help a student realize a dream,” she said. “I like the idea that you can help students reach a goal that at one point in their life didn’t seem possible.”

Weinberg junior Logan Fassbinder, who works with Friend in the study abroad office and studied abroad in France last fall, said he admires her professionalism.

“It was nice knowing that there was someone constantly looking out for me in the background,” he said.

This post was updated Sunday at 11:40 p.m.

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