A psychology major finds his path to diplomacy.
As a U.S. Department of State investigative assistant in the Bureau of Diplomacy's San Diego office, Val Jensen ’03 handles human-trafficking investigations and cases related to fraudulent travel documents.
“I love the problem-solving aspects of what I do,” he says. "It gives me room to be creative and to use things like social media. Redlands helped me to break out of my shell and prepared me for what I do today.”
Val graduated from Redlands with a bachelor’s in psychology. He attributes his strong critical thinking and interpersonal skills to his involvement in the University’s theater arts program. His ability to listen and empathize with others was honed during a class in counseling techniques taught by psychology Professor Fred Rabinowitz.
He also credits UR as being the place where he “tried new things and grew socially and intellectually.”
Following graduation, Val went on to study acting at a school in Hollywood, and even did a stint as a platemaker for the San Diego Union-Tribune.
In 2008, he applied for a master’s program at The Interdisciplinary Center near Tel Aviv in Israel. There he learned Hebrew and received a master’s in government with a special emphasis in counter-terrorism and homeland security. He also witnessed Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system in action.
“Something exploded, sirens went off and everyone scrambled,” he says. “I had to follow along and do what the locals did.”
He earned a second master’s degree, in Middle Eastern studies, from Tel Aviv University in 2012. He then interned with the U.S. State Department Office of Diplomatic Security in Washington, D. C., where he became involved in the department’s Pathways Program. The position served as a gateway to civil service work and his job in San Diego.
His next goal is to become a diplomatic security service special agent, which will enable him to work at U.S. embassies worldwide protecting diplomats, the secretary of state and foreign dignitaries.