University of Hertfordshire student appointed as NATO’s UK youth ambassador for social media

26 May 2022

Ellie Hurer, a University of Hertfordshire Biochemistry PhD student, has been personally invited by the Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stolenberg to represent the UK as a NATO Youth Ambassador for social media.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) is an intergovernmental military alliance between 30 member countries. Created after World War II, the organisation helps defend its members by having regular consultations and discussions of current issues and responding to operations and missions as a part of crisis management.

Ellie’s Instagram blog @myphdexperience shares her experience as a PhD student with a chronic and mental illness. Through her honesty and vulnerability, Ellie has gained over 30,000 followers and captured the attention of NATO, who reached out to her looking for inspiring influencers. As an ambassador, Ellie will be supporting the future of young people by using social media platforms to document her journey and working collaboratively across borders.

The organisation selected two influencers from five NATO countries (U.K., USA, Latvia, Spain and Germany) to come together for a series of summits where they’ll meet NATO leaders and participate in discussions on current and future issues.

When asked about her appointment, Ellie said: “When I initially received my invitation from the Secretary General, I didn’t think it was real because I couldn’t believe I was chosen to do this. There was no application process at all, they just scouted influencers through a massive database to find the ones that they wanted to work with. They picked young inspirational and potential leaders who had already gained a massive following just from being themselves.”

Recently, Ellie travelled to NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, for the first time to attend their annual Youth Summit ‘Securing Our Shared Future’. She met and learnt more about NATO by listening to speakers from all over the world who discussed major issues such as climate change, fake news/misinformation, the Ukraine war and cybersecurity.

Ellie commented: “From these trips I want to be able to learn a lot more about NATO and what they do. I also want to capture what the youth of the U.K. are worried about and be a voice for them. I am so excited for this journey, and I feel so ready!

“Thank you to everyone at UH who has and still is supporting me! I do my social media work alongside my PhD and my supervisors and members of my department are so supportive and they allow me to succeed both in academia and in my work outside academia.”

Speaking at the NATO Youth Summit earlier this year, Jens Stolenberg said: “I think NATO matters for everyone, including young people because NATO preserves peace and of course, peace is fundamental for everything else. If you don’t have peace, then you cannot have prosperity, you cannot have jobs, you cannot have a proper location, you cannot fight climate change.”

Ellie and the team of influencers will continue travelling to the Headquarters and other cities in Europe to meet the Secretary General and key NATO spokespeople to learn more about the organisation and their relationship with the youth of member countries.

Watch the opening of the NATO Youth Summit 2022.

Follow Ellie’s page.


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