Ben Rich

Hometown: Kirkland, WA
College: Liberal Arts
Major: English; Comparative Literature
Degree: Bachelor's, 2010

Earning his BA from Purdue in 2010, Ben commissioned into the Army through Purdue’s ROTC program and serves on active duty with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Cincinnati, Ohio. As a military officer, Ben “developed an interest in and appreciation for the role of diplomacy as an instrument to create peace and international stability.” His interest in diplomacy and economics began when he attended the U.S. Army’s Civil Affairs school which provided interactive training on cultural awareness, economic development, humanitarian assistance and the efficacy of diplomacy. Additionally, Ben was raised in the United States by his single mother and maternal grandmother, both first generation Korean-American immigrants. As a result, he learned of Korean culture and language from childhood. 

Together, these influences have guided him to take courses in economics and Korean language in preparation to pursue a Master's degree in International Studies majoring in international commerce at Seoul National University. Ben will study trade and its relationship with Korean foreign policy and diplomacy. He seeks to research how commercial interests affect the geopolitical landscape in Asia and how countries utilize trade to advance their national security interests and foreign policy objectives.  

Ben’s professors describe him as an avid reader with a keen interest in current events who regularly stopped by their offices to discuss articles from The Economist or Foreign Policy magazines. Dr. Abdullah Al-Bahrani, Assistant Professor of Economics at Northern Kentucky University, writes, “As an instructor, I enjoyed his ability to connect material across the curriculum, but more importantly I was impressed by his curiosity and willingness to learn.”

Outside of class, Ben hopes to continue his military service while in Korea through the U.S. Army Reserves. He also hopes to foster mutual understanding and cooperation with Korea as a volunteer working with North Korean refugees through the "Teach North Korean Refugees" program. After completing graduate studies, he plans to become a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State representing U.S. foreign policy in the Asia-Pacific rim. 

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