Engaging Others: How One Sister Uses Adaptability to Serve

Ruby Marcelo, Delta Nu (Beloit College), has always been drawn to people of different backgrounds. In fact, it’s one of the reasons she joined Alpha Sigma Tau. It’s also why she was drawn to a career with the U.S. State Department.

She is currently a Foreign Service Officer serving at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel, as Vice Consul in the Consular section. Her prior assignment was in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, just across the border from Laredo, Texas.

“I’ve always had an interest in where others came from and what they bring to the table,” says Ruby, herself born in Hawaii to immigrant parents from the Philippines. “During sorority recruitment in college, I could see that Alpha Sigma Tau prided itself on having members of diverse backgrounds. It was a natural fit for me.”

While in college, Ruby was awarded a national scholarship designed to attract minorities to foreign service careers. The scholarship provided funding for graduate school, which Ruby completed in 2007 with a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Maryland College Park. The scholarship also provided opportunities to learn about State Department careers, including tours of Foggy Bottom and the chance to network with foreign service professionals.

While in Baltimore, Ruby remained active in Alpha Sigma Tau, joining the alumnae chapter there. She credits being an Alpha Sigma Tau with helping her succeed overseas. “Alpha Sigma Tau pushed me to adapt,” she recalls. “There were always members graduating and new ones coming in. Every year, there were changing officers. You had to be self-aware of group dynamics and able to move in changing social circumstances.”

That has a lot of relevance to what she does today. “I move every 2-3 years,” she says. “That means I have to make relationships quickly. I have to learn new languages quickly. In this line of work, you can’t predict what situation you will encounter – from political instability to natural disasters to emergencies like a lost passport, you have to adapt fast to be helpful.”

So, what’s next for Ruby? “One of the great things about Israel is that it is centrally located to many interesting places,” she says. “In the last year, I’ve been to eight different countries. I would love to be stationed in South America. I have never been there.”

Ruby encourages anyone who loves to travel and serve to consider a career with the State Department. To learn more, visit state.gov/careers.