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Alumnus Admitted to Council on Foreign Relations

Collin Walsh, ’07, has become the first graduate of the CSUS system to be admitted into the prestigious Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) as a Term Member. Walsh majored in political science as an undergraduate at Southern.

“The Council on Foreign Relations accepts only a very small percentage of International Relations professionals into its rank,” said Patricia Olney, professor of political science. “As far as I know, Collin is our first. He may also be our first student to pass the Foreign Service exam and make it into the Foreign Service. He did it twice.”  

According to the CFR website, “The Stephen M. Kellen Term Member Program provides young professionals in government, media, nongovernmental organizations, law, business, finance, and academia the opportunity to participate in a sustained conversation on international affairs and U.S. foreign policy. The program allows these younger members to interact with seasoned foreign policy experts and participate in a wide variety of events designed especially for them. Each year, a new class of term members between the ages of thirty and thirty-six is elected to serve a fixed five-year membership term.”

Walsh, a native of North Haven, graduated magna cum laude from Southern with a bachelor of science in political science. While at Southern, he served as a White House intern, was an NCAA All-American in track and field, and a tri-sport team captain in cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track. After graduating, he attended Indiana University Maurer School of Law, where he was awarded a JD. He is a former Milford police officer and attorney instructor of law at the Milford Regional Police Academy. In April 2016, he headed to Washington, D.C., to work for Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) as a special agent specializing in counter-terrorism.

On his third day of Foreign Service orientation as a DSS special agent candidate, Walsh became physically paralyzed and was ultimately diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. He was told he would never walk again. He resigned from the Foreign Service and immediately set about reinventing himself. After two years dedicated entirely to physical recovery primarily in Kolkata, India, his wife’s native country, Walsh returned to DSS walking with elbow-supported mobility aids. 

Guided by his passion for public service and his commitment to representing the resilience of the American disability community globally, Walsh successfully competed for the highly prestigious Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship in 2020. Designed to prepare outstanding young people for Foreign Service careers, the fellowship is funded by the U.S. Department of State and administered by Howard University. The fellowship offers funding for a master’s degree, places fellows in domestic and overseas internships, and culminates with a commission in the Foreign Service. As a result, Walsh is a full-time Civil Service employee and Georgetown University graduate student, has completed a domestic internship with the Department’s India desk, will intern this summer at U.S. Embassy Port Moresby, and is scheduled to be commissioned as a Foreign Service Officer in 2023.

Walsh also recently received a CAREERS & the disABLED magazine’s Employee of the Year award for “his resilience, professional accomplishments, and commitment to advocacy for persons with disabilities.” He is only one of three federal employees across the entire federal workforce to be awarded this honor in 2022.

For an in-depth article about Walsh, visit EOP Publications page 23 or read an interview in Federal News Network

Read more about Collin Walsh:

U.S. Dept. of State Awards Top Fellowship to Alumnus (Mar. 26, 2020)

Read Walsh’s 2021 interview with MIUSA about his Pickering fellowship

Walsh a Track Star at Alumni Meet (Nov. 14, 2017)


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