UH student appointed as NATO's Youth Ambassador for social media

Ellie Hurer, a Biochemistry PhD student in Hatfield has been invited by the Secretary General of NATO.

Ellie Hurer, a Biochemistry PhD student in Hatfield, has been invited by the Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg to represent the UK at the Youth Summit. - Credit: University of Hertfordshire

A University of Hertfordshire student has been appointed as NATO’s UK youth ambassador for social media. 

Ellie Hurer, a Biochemistry PhD student in Hatfield, has been invited by the Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, to represent the UK at the Youth Summit. 

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) is an intergovernmental military alliance between 30 member countries. It was created after World War Two, and helps to defend its members by having regular consultations and discussions about current affairs and responding to operations and missions as a part of crisis management. 

Ellie shares her experience on her Instagram account @myphdexperience where she talks about being a PhD student with a chronic and mental illness.

She has gained more than 30,000 followers by being honest and vulnerable and eventually caught the attention on NATO. 

NATO had reached out to Ellie as they were 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 collaboratively working across borders. 

NATO had reached out to Ellie as they were looking for inspiring influencers.

NATO had reached out to Ellie as they were 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 collaboratively working across borders. - Credit: University of Hertfordshire

The organisation chose two influencers from five NATO countries (UK, USA, Latvia, Spain and Germany), in order to come together for various summits where they will be able to meet NATO leaders and participate in discussions of multiple current and future matters. 

“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,” Ellie said.

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"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."

She recently travelled to NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, for the first time to attend their annual Youth Summit ‘Securing Our Shared Future’.

Ellie met and learnt more from various speakers from all over the world about major issues such as climate change, misinformation and the Ukraine war.

“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 UK 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.” 

Jens Stoltenberg said at the NATO Youth Summit earlier this year: “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.