Breaking Barriers | The Professional Journey of a Diplomat’s Wife

March 10, 2024
Alexandra Kinias

As the world spins faster, life can become an overwhelming challenge, but Dr. Reham Eltomy defies these challenges, juggling four kids, a full-time engineering career, and duties of a diplomat’s spouse with grace and grit. She pushes boundaries, and forges a trailblazing path that merges academia, cybersecurity, and diplomatic life.

Her inspiring story is not just an amazing personal achievement, but also a powerful narrative that breaks down barriers, shatters stereotypes and misconceptions, and motivates others to reach beyond what’s expected of them.

The diplomatic roles and responsibilities,  are undoubtedly foremost among the priorities of Diplomat’s spouses forming an integral indispensable part of their  joint duties, which is no doubt a full time irreplaceable job and role. This priority may certainly impact other professional  career trajectories. But this was not the case with Eltomy.

During our call, Eltomy shared with me from Washington DC, where she lives with her daughters, that juggling multiple roles has always been challenging. However, her journey has given her a unique and diverse perspective, which she is eager to share with others.

Combining a full-time engineering job throughout the years she spent between external posts, with the demanding role of a mother of four was a challenge that she took head-on. Both a nurturing mother and a skilled engineer, she successfully struck a balance between her professional and family life, proving her commitment to both.

Her husband served at several diplomatic posts abroad, the last of which was in Washington, DC, as a Deputy Chief of Mission. Having accompanied her husband to different corners of the world, she recognizes the unique challenges faced by children in diplomatic families. While it might be easier to relocate when kids are young, the challenges become more pronounced as they grow older, often leaving them feeling uprooted.

With two daughters already attending college and having herself teaching as well, after her husband’s term in D.C. concluded, Eltomy and the daughters chose to remain in the U.S. The girls are living at home with her and commuting to college in Maryland. “There was no reason for them to stay on campus after l decided to stay behind with them,” explained Eltomy. “This arrangement works well with the younger ones too. We saw how relocating several times has been hard on the girls, and we decided to give the younger ones more time to settle down in one place and develop relationships with their school friends and maintain some stability in their lives.”

Eltomy’s academic journey is nothing short of impressive, boasting two master’s degrees and a Ph.D. Currently a professor at Towson University, University of the Potomac and an active member of Women in Cybersecurity, she has conquered academic hurdles with unwavering determination and dedication. Her experiences have uniquely shaped her perspective, making her a valuable contributor to the field of cybersecurity.

As a diplomat’s spouse, Eltomy has navigated the challenge of adapting her career to her husband’s frequent relocations and job demands. She made a strategic shift from industrial engineering to academia, enabling her to continue her professional journey. This career move may not only allows her to have an academic role in various global capitals, aligning with her husband’s assignments, but also adds up and does not contradict with her original priority role as a diplomat’s spouse.

Her journey took her to places of both tranquility and turbulence, at times.  Starting in Slovakia then in Yemen and the UAE before their last term in Washington D.C.  all of which she fondly remembers. All the places she’s been to, like all her counterparts, have enhanced her views of global developments, adding depth to her personal and professional vision.

“Lives of diplomats wives are not as picturesque as many people imagine.” She tries to clarify the misconception that diplomatic life is always glamorous and rosy. Through her experiences, she reveals the challenges and sacrifices that families face especially as they relocate to accompany their diplomat spouses.

Eltomy’s career achievements are backed by her husband’s encouragement and support. He recognized the importance of her career and academic path, creating an environment that allowed her to excel in her career while managing the challenges of diplomatic life.

As happens every time her husband’s term ends, she is uncertain about her family’s future plans. But wherever her journey takes her, she is committed to sharing her experiences to inspire women to give foremost priority to their diplomatic roles as well as pursuing their passions, and unapologetically following their dreams.

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