An alumnus for Washington, for the world

Benjamin WiselogleWhen he was president of the Student Veterans Association at the University of Washington Bothell, Benjamin Wiselogle (global studies ’12) learned leadership skills as he helped create the Veterans Archway on campus. Now he’s using some of those skills on a daunting task that impacts the world.

Benjamin Wiselogle (Marc Studer photo)

The 34-year-old Bothell resident moved to Washington, D.C., in May to start work as a State Department foreign affairs officer with the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.

The long title means he’ll be working with foreign embassies, lawmakers and law enforcers to improve their response to human trafficking. Forced labor is one big issue, depending on the region, but sex trafficking in young women makes up a large proportion of the offenders across the world.

“It's the very worst of humanity,” Wiselogle said. “My job has a lot of responsibility. If I do it well, victims of trafficking will see the light of day. If I don’t do the job well, they’ll suffer.”

Working six month in Washington, D.C., and six months internationally, he’ll have responsibilities to combat human trafficking in 15-to-18 countries in various regions of the world, such as Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe or the Caribbean.

“I won’t be kicking down doors, sadly,” he said. But he says he can offer resources – money – for training. “That’s our carrot, definitely.”

The State Department job is the latest step in a life journey where UW Bothell was a significant stop. Wiselogle served six years in the Navy from before 9/11 in 2001 until 2007 during the Iraq War. But the most devastating wartime event hit in 2008 when a childhood friend from Bothell, Marine 1st Lt. Nicholas Madrazo, was killed in Afghanistan.

“Nick’s passing made me reassess my entire life from top to bottom,” Wiselogle said.

That led him to volunteer in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake that killed tens of thousands of people. “And that’s where I felt everything come together. I felt I found my passion, my reason for being.”
Wiselogle didn’t want to just show up in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, volunteer and leave. “I wanted to understand more.”

That led to the University of Washington Bothell where he studied international relations. “It allowed me to attach a framework to some of these feelings. It allowed me to understand how economic systems and globalization have impacted places like Haiti,” Wiselogle said.

Veterans ArchwayAs a campus leader, he co-chaired the campaign to fund the Veterans Archway. The monument was dedicated in 2013 on the east side of the sports fields, where it welcomes veterans transitioning to college.

“It allowed me to grow my leadership skills, advocating for veterans,” he said.

Wiselogle returned to Haiti four more times, working on economic development, most recently as an employee of the Haitian-led microfinance nonprofit Fonkoze.

Wiselogle also returned to the University of Washington at the Evans School of Public Policy & Governance where he earned a master’s of public administration (MPA) in 2016. The Presidential Management Fellow Program at the school provided the portal to the State Department job.

“You’ve got to go where you’re needed; you’ve got to go where you feel alive,” said Wiselogle, who still feels tied to UW Bothell.

“Nothing I’ve been able to do since 2012 would have been possible without the support, patience and willingness to share knowledge of this community – UW Bothell – none of it. It’s informed everything I’ve done.”