Current Position: Officer, U.S. Marine Corps
Past: Virginia House of Delegates, DNC Hope Institute
Education: Yale University
Stefan “Reed” Dibich recently graduated from Marine Corps Officer Candidates School and commissioned in May 2017. He first joined Hertog in Summer 2015 for Vance Serchuk’s “Lessons of the Iraq War” seminar and later returned for the 2016 War Studies Program.
WHAT STICKS OUT IN YOUR MEMORY ABOUT YOUR EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCE WITH HERTOG PROGRAMS?
There had never been another time in my life where I got to be in a room with such serious students talking about such serious matters and have some of the most influential practitioners in the history that we were studying come talk to us about their decisions, their weaknesses, and their mistakes, but also their triumphs.
I didn’t know coming into the War Studies Program that General John Allen, a retired Marine General, was going to be one of the instructors. My educational experience was enhanced just about every time he opened his mouth. He told us stories about the policies he worked on and told us what it was like to actually be in combat.
DO YOU THINK HERTOG PROGRAMS ARE BENEFICIAL FOR YOUNG PEOPLE INTERESTED IN PUBLIC SERVICE?
I think it’s crucial that in Hertog programs you’re discussing these topics with people who have direct experience with said topics. There’s no better way to discuss the Iraq War than to have General [Stanley] McChrystal, General [David] Petraeus, General Allen, and the rest come in and speak to you about it. We even heard from Ambassador Robert Ford and Ambassador Ryan Crocker.
I think anyone who is interested in serving our country could benefit from participating in a Hertog program. It doesn’t matter if you’re red, blue, or purple; whatever your political persuasion, you will definitely benefit from Hertog.
OVERALL, WHAT IS YOUR IMPRESSION OF HERTOG PROGRAMS?
Hertog programs do what universities can’t do. Universities are very good at introducing students to different disciplines, getting them to know their history, and training them in all of the methodological approaches that are important for whatever department or discipline they’re a part of. But what they miss is the big ideas, and translating those big ideas into big actions on the ground today.
Hertog inculcates a sense that what we’re doing is so important because it’s happening right now. What you’re studying in Hertog programs has implications for your life today, tomorrow, and for the rest of your career. And that’s what makes Hertog so special. It encourages the students to have big ideas and to translate that into big actions.
TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR CAREER PATH. HOW DOES HERTOG FIT INTO YOUR PROFESSIONAL GOALS?
Particularly with the War Studies Program, there was a real call to service. And I think it stuck in all 19 of us that were there. Drs. Fred and Kim Kagan, Lt. General [James] Dubik, and General Allen talked about what service means, and drove home the fact that because we’re studying these big ideas, we now have an obligation and a civic duty to do something about it. And I think a lot of my fellow War Studies alumni are feeling that call.
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN 10 YEARS? IN A SIMILAR JOB, OR EMBARKING ON SOMETHING DIFFERENT?
I’m not sure yet how long I’ll serve in the Marines. I’m just going to accept my commission and try to be best Marine Officer I can be. When the time comes to either continue my commission or resign it, I’ll make my decision then.
But for now, I just hope that wherever I am in the world I’m happy with what I’m doing, I sincerely feel that I’m making an impact, and that the work I do every day is meaningful. Those are my criteria. I can see that happening in the Marines, and I hope that continues.