A former Stevenage student has been appointed as NATO’s UK youth ambassador for social media.

Ellie Hurer, who lives in Knebworth and attended The John Henry Newman School in Stevenage, has been invited by the Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, to represent the UK.

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

Ellie, a biochemistry PhD student at the University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield, talks about being a PhD student with a chronic and mental illness on her Instagram account @myphdexperience.

She has gained more than 30,000 followers and NATO 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 work across borders.

The organisation chose two influencers from five NATO countries (UK, USA, Latvia, Spain and Germany) to come together for various summits.

“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.

"There was no application process, they just scouted influencers through a massive database to find the ones 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, to attend their annual Youth Summit ‘Securing Our Shared Future’, which included issues such as climate change, misinformation and the Ukraine war.

Ellie said: “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."

Watch the opening of the NATO Youth Summit 2022.