Four Years on the Hilltop

A path to peace and diplomacy through the Wilmot College Scholarship

Having gone to Jewish day school from kindergarten through 12th grade, Jesuit Georgetown University seemed like an unlikely choice. However, with four months to graduation, I look back on my memories from the campus’ historic Healy building to the Persian Gulf cliffs of Oman and all the other places to which my past four years have led me, and I can’t imagine having gone anywhere else.

While I started as an American government major in Georgetown’s liberal arts school, I decided to transfer to the School of Foreign Service my sophomore year as an International Politics major. My growing interest in international relations was reflected in my decision to begin studying Arabic. As the New York Times reported, like me, a growing number of American Jews have decided in recent years to take up studies of the Arab world. Having lived in Israel and studied Hebrew for years in Jewish day school, I figured that knowledge of these two languages would be important for someone with a growing interest in Middle East politics.

On campus, I co-founded Georgetown’s J Street U chapter and enrolled in Middle East history and politics courses with professors including Ambassador Dennis Ross and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. I have since published opinion pieces and articles in the campus newspaper, J Weekly, and a Dartmouth research journal.

I studied abroad in Jordan, where I lived with a host family and volunteered in Syrian and Palestinian refugee camps, which was the subject of a TEDxGeorgetown talk I delivered last year. I had the opportunity to travel around the Middle East during this time abroad to places including the Sinai, Cairo, Oman, Turkey and three visits to Israel.

Navigating between the Israeli and Arab narratives both academically and experientially grew my interest in the art of diplomacy. After returning from Jordan, I interned in the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. This year, I’ve taken on three major research projects, all of which concern the Arab-Israeli peace process.

Following graduation, I’ll continue working for the State Department in the Kigali (Rwanda) embassy’s political/economic section during the summer, after which I’ll fly to Nicaragua for two years as a secondary education Peace Corps volunteer. I am so grateful to the Ronald P. Wilmot scholarship committee for their unwavering support throughout my college years.

Elijah Jatovsky is an honors candidate senior in Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service and a recipient of the Ronald P. Wilmot College Scholarship, a fund held at the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund.

Apply for the Ronald P. Wilmot College Scholarship, or learn about the other college scholarships offered by the Federation. For more information, contact Galya Segal or call 415.512.6242.

Categories: Community, Young Adults


February 25, 2016


Elijah Jatovsky