By: Alumni Correspondent Neal Vermillion, ’99
Greetings from Perth, Australia where I serve as United States Consul. Born and raised in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, I am a proud Badger by blood (my mother having received a Master’s degree from UW-Madison in the early 1960s.). Madison will always be “home” to me as my wife and I married at St. Paul’s University Catholic Center on campus in 1999 and our daughter was born in Madison in 2001. I was thrilled to earn an MA in History from the UW-Madison in 1999 (a week before our wedding!).
My focus academically was on 20th century foreign policy which turned out to be a great stepping stone to my subsequent career as I have become a
practitioner of foreign policy. Joining the Department of State in 2002, my Foreign Service assignments have taken me progressively further away from Madison. Fortunately, though, I have been able to return to Wisconsin almost yearly to visit family and friends. I have the best of both worlds: an international life and outlook nurtured at UW, and a Wisconsin base which will always be home no matter where I live!
I served at the U.S. Embassies in Sofia, Bulgaria from 2003-2005 and Antananarivo, Madagascar from 2006-2008. Here in Perth, I focus on managing the consulate, processing visas to facilitate travel to the U.S., and assisting American citizens in Western Australia. I also have the chance to practice public diplomacy and give talks and speeches to the Australian public touching on a range of topics.
Thankfully, my UW-Madison education in history, gives me a great understanding of the role I currently play as well as great fodder for speeches! I gave one recent speech, for example, to a local American organization that was founded in 1968. Thanks to my education, I was able to develop my speech around what an eventful year 1968 was around the world. One example of the kinds of things I do can be found in this news clip from a local news Web site.
It is wonderful to see UW-Madison continue to develop such an international outlook, something that will be even more critical in the decades to come.
U.S. Consulate General – Perth, Australia