LinkedIn tracking pixel

Star Hy: State Department Fellow at IWP

Star is one of IWP’s Senior Fellows from the State Department, where she serves in the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS). After an impressive career of military service, private sector contracting, and travel around the world, Star has spent the past year studying national security here at IWP in our Executive M.A. Program. She will soon put her degree to use in her next assignment in DSS’ Overseas Security Advisory Council.

Star Hy Headshot

From the U.S. Army to national security work

Star attended West Point for her undergraduate education, where she studied Systems Engineering.  Graduates from West Point serve five years active duty upon graduation, and Star served as a Military Police Officer in Fort Benning, (now Fort Moore) Georgia; Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; and the Republic of Korea. Six years after completing her mandatory services, Star decided to join the Army Reserves in 2012, where she now serves as a Military Intelligence and Foreign Area Officer.

Following her release from active duty, Star worked in the private sector as a government contractor in Washington, D.C. Realizing that she wanted to return to public service, Star worked as a policy analyst and later as an intelligence analyst at the Department of Homeland Security Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“My plan was to be an FBI agent,” she says. “As I was working at ICE, I was exposed to other federal agencies that have federal agents. I started investigating what was the best fit for me.”

Star Hy at IWP Commencement
Star Hy was recognized at IWP Commencement in May 2024 in anticipation of earning her degree in August.

An excellent professional fit: the Diplomatic Security Service

It was then that Star discovered DSS. “The unique mission, the travel, and overseas living that DSS brought to the table was attractive to me…  When I joined, I really loved it. I loved every second of it.”

Traditionally, DSS special agents will spend approximately half of their careers overseas and the other half domestically, though as Star says, “everyone charts their own path.”

On the domestic side, DSS is charged with passport and visa fraud investigations, which will often overlap with other crimes such as immigration crimes or drug trafficking. DSS also manages personal protection for the Secretary of State, the U.S. Ambassador to the UN, and visiting foreign dignitaries.

While working overseas, agents serve as important diplomats representing the United States. “When people think of diplomats, they often think of State Department political and economic officers,” said Star. “For the security and law enforcement arm, it is a great opportunity to protect people, facilities, and information at U.S. Missions overseas on behalf of the U.S. government.”

DSS special agents fill several roles: “Abroad, our agents manage the security programs at the Mission – the local guard force, Marine Security Guards, and physical security programs for the embassy or consulate. In most of our embassies and consulates overseas, we also have a DSS agent working in the consular section – where the consular officers issue U.S. passports and visas – so they can work on visa fraud within the embassy.”

Star has deeply enjoyed her own personal experiences at DSS, where she now serves as a Supervisory Special Agent.

At the beginning of her DSS career, Star was assigned to the DSS Field Office in Washington D.C., and later to the DSS Office of Special Investigations, where criminal and administrative investigations are conducted for offenses committed by and against State Department employees, family members, and other U.S. government employees serving overseas: “I spent four years in that office. I really enjoyed it. I was able to complete some rewarding investigations on cases involving sexual assaults and crimes against children — and to bring those offenders to justice.”

Star Hy with a fellow graduate at IWP Commencement
Star Hy with Mike Jeffress, another IWP State Department Fellow

Her first overseas assignment was at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, where she worked investigating cases of U.S. passport and visa fraud in the consular section.

“Mexico City is one of the busiest embassies in the world, with the travel of U.S. citizens and dual nationals to Mexico and the solicitation of U.S. visas by Mexicans and third country nationals living in Mexico,” Star said.

Following that assignment, she managed security programs at the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In her most recent overseas assignment, she was posted at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan – briefly.

“My initial assignment was investigations in the consular section. Two weeks after I landed in Kabul, the embassy suspended operations. I worked the evacuation/relocation and humanitarian missions at the Kabul International Airport for two weeks before the final evacuation and relocation.”

Upon return to the United States, Star worked in the overseas investigations program management office at DSS headquarters, which provided opportunities for short assignments in Qatar and Peru.

Most recently, she was activated on military orders to the Pentagon to serve as the Military Assistant to the Army Chief of Staff’s Foreign Policy Advisor. From there, she began her fellowship at IWP.

Dr. James Robbins and Star Hy

State Department Fellowship at IWP

Star came to IWP as part of an ongoing partnership with the State Department for IWP to host State Department Fellows. In this program, State Department employees are provided opportunities to seek higher education throughout their careers. For Star, her full-time studies for the Executive M.A. program here at IWP became her full-time job. IWP covered her tuition, while the State Department covers the fellow’s salary. IWP hosted both Star and Michael Jeffress from DSS for this cohort of fellows.

The State Department gave Star the opportunity to choose from a variety of educational institutions around the country.  After considering many schools in the area, Star discovered IWP. With three graduate degrees already under her belt, including an MBA from Johns Hopkins, Star was looking for a school in D.C. where she could her increase her depth of knowledge in national security studies. “I was looking for a program that would provide me with tools to make me successful at the next level of leadership.”

After further research on the school and hearing great reviews from former classmates at West Point and other employees at the State Department, Star decided IWP was the best fit.

“It has been an outstanding year of learning,” Star said. “I enjoyed the professors, classes, and the other students who come from a variety of backgrounds, variety of ages. I have nothing but glowing things to say about the Institute.”

Star appreciates how flexible and open IWP has been regarding the research and coursework required of the students: “I have been able to do research on topics of interest to me that I have not previously been able to explore, and research on topics that will apply to my work at the State Department.”

Reflecting upon her time at IWP, “I would say this program has been eye-opening.”

One area Star particularly enjoyed studying was Africa. “I have never served in Africa, but I have always been very interested in the continent. In the future, I would like to serve there. I didn’t have a grasp of the dynamics – why there is such success in some areas and not others. Coming here and learning about it really opened my eyes.”

Star credits Professor Charles Snyder for leading the class: “For him, it was easy teaching us what we wanted to learn. I learned about culture, history, and the background on how things came to be – questions I had but never had the time to research.”

Star saw a direct tie-in with her own professional work in Defense Strategy, Planning and Budgeting class with Professor Wayne Schroeder. “I am an Army reservist,” she says, “and I have dealt with budgets, but have not delved into what drives the money and decision-making, and how the budgeting process works. Using what I learned in the class, I was able to apply it to my work in the Army and can better understand how the budget for my department was determined, what big decisions were being made, and how they affect us.”

Future work with the State Department

After she completes her IWP degree in August, Star will turn to the State Department’s Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC). OSAC promotes security cooperation and keeps the Diplomatic Security Service connected with U.S. organizations operating abroad. Through ongoing threat awareness and crisis support, consultations, analysis, training, events, and trusted peer network groups, OSAC works together to protect U.S. interests overseas. After serving a two-year assignment there, Star plans to return overseas. Thanks to training by the State Department, Star can speak Spanish, which she would love to put to use in a posting in Latin America.

Star has appreciated her time at IWP and is excited to apply her experiences here to her career.

“I have found my job with DSS to be an extremely rewarding career. Seeing myself as value added to the organization is extremely fulfilling, and I know my degree from IWP will enhance my value to the State Department,” said Star.

Star Hy in Commencement Regalia

More News From IWP Students And Alumni

Make A Gift To IWP

IWP Admissions