Maryam Mujica ’96
In 2009, three Americans hiking in Iraq were imprisoned in Iran for allegedly crossing the Iranian border and conducting espionage. It took a two-year international effort to get them back on U.S. soil, and Maryam Mujica ’96 was part of that effort. Working as a Foreign Affairs Officer in the Office of Iranian Affairs at the State Department at the time, she helped coordinate the release. “It was amazing to see how much effort went into it,” she says. She left the State Department to work for the White House National Security Council for a year, but recently returned to the State Department as the Europe Press Officer.
At the White House National Security Council, each morning, Maryam and her colleagues would meet in their office across the driveway from the West Wing and prepare points for the National Security Advisor to present during the President’s daily briefing. “We were constantly following developments abroad while helping to create U.S. foreign policy,” she says. They also coordinated the U.S. government response to developments around the world and supported efforts to build and maintain relationships with partner countries to advance shared objectives.
Maryam says her international background and her time at Groton sparked her interest in foreign policy. She was born in Iran during the Iranian Revolution and grew up in New York and Mexico, spending summers in Europe, before coming to Groton. At Groton, she became more interested in public service, thanks to the school’s emphasis on giving back, she says. She majored in political science at Trinity College and steeped herself in politics and public service, including interning for the late Senator Ted Kennedy, volunteering for the Clinton and Gore campaigns, and working in the Connecticut Attorney General’s office, advocating for scammed senior citizens.
Maryam attended law school at Santa Clara University, where she worked on the Innocence Project, offering legal support to inmates who were on death row or serving life sentences. During her second year of law school, she worked in a district attorney’s office “to see what the other side was like,” and spent her third year working for a public defender. After stints clerking for a judge in San Francisco and fundraising at Stanford Law School, she was ready to return to public service. A Franklin Fellowship brought her to the State Department, where she focused on sanctions and public diplomacy issues in the Office of Iranian Affairs. After the yearlong fellowship, the department asked her to stay, hiring her permanently in 2011, and a few months later putting her on the White House National Security Council detail. “It was very grueling, obviously, but it was an incredible experience,” she says. “Foreign policy is what hits home for me.”