The Florida State University College of Social Sciences and Public Policy has named Eric Reading, executive vice president of Chemonics International, as its distinguished alumnus for 2018.
His academic career at FSU is a great testimonial to the global focus and multidisciplinary approach of the college’s programs. Reading earned his bachelor’s degree in 1992 and his master’s a year later in international affairs. His undergraduate studies concentrated on political science and geography and his master’s on economics and Middle Eastern studies.
“I am honored and humbled to be selected as the college’s Distinguished Alumnus for 2018,” Reading said. “I feel very fortunate to have a career that allows me to help improve the lives of millions of people around the world, and it has been very rewarding to give back to the university to help connect students with opportunities in their chosen careers.”
Reading has made the most his FSU degrees at Chemonics, a development company whose mission is “to promote meaningful change around the world to help people live healthier, more productive and more independent lives.”
During his 24 years with the company he has worked on programs in local government and economic reform in Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union and helped create infrastructure for capital markets and for drinking water and sanitation in Egypt. In 2004, he went to Kosovo to lead a program for improved electricity services. A program he oversaw in the Republic of Georgia brought that country recognition as the most improved business environment in the world.
It was the year between graduation and starting with Chemonics, however, that solidified his engagement with the college as an alum.
“I struggled to find my first full-time position in my field,” Reading said. “That is a key motivator for the work I do with the college now.”
Remembering those struggles, Reading now takes time to help current students chart career paths and make the professional connections they need to start their careers. He organizes an annual career day to bring current students and alumni together in Washington, D.C., where he lives and works.
Reading frequently travels to Tallahassee to take part in alumni panels to expose students to career options in international affairs. Thanks to his dedication, many students have connected with alumni and potential employers across a range of organizations.
Much of Reading’s engagement has been with the World Affairs Program (WAP). This student-run academic program within the college promotes an increased awareness of the global community and encourages personal, social and political growth among the students who participate in its activities. The group has brought home numerous Best Delegation awards and ranks in the Top Model U.N. teams in North America.
Having served as a WAP director, Eric remains very connected to the organization as a member of its advisory board, a donor and a mentor to students. He describes the World Affairs Program as exemplifying the college’s Get More Than a Degree initiative.
“It was where I gained the practical skills of research, negotiations, problem solving, public speaking and organizational management that were just as important in a career as academic knowledge,” he said.
The college will honor Reading during its annual Distinguished Alumnus Dinner on Friday, Oct. 19.