Department Diplomacy seminar for diplomatic excellence

Executive Director of the Una Chapman Cox Foundation, Ambassador Lino Gutiérrez (Ret.), bottom far left, poses with 2018 Cox-State Diplomacy fellows and program organizers. Photo by Matthew Pickett

By Heather Joy Thompson

The Department’s Bureau of Human Resources’ Office of Recruitment, Examination and Employment (HR/REE) and the Diplomacy Center collaborated with the Una Chapman Cox Foundation to host 28 undergraduate students from historically black colleges and universities and Hispanic serving institutions for a three-day immersive diplomacy seminar last November. The students, whose academic homes span the United States, were selected based on their academic achievement and demonstrated interest in careers in international affairs. 

Acting Deputy Director of the Foreign Service Institute Julieta Noyes, former Director General and Assistant Secretary for Africa Linda Thomas-Greenfield and former Ambassador Marcie Ries welcomed the students by sharing experiences drawn from their distinguished careers. Students participated in a diplomatic simulation at the Diplomacy Center and then paired off with current mid- and senior-level Foreign Service officers and Foreign Affairs officers to learn more about the daily responsibilities of international affairs experts across a variety of career tracks. Students also visited the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, USAID and the Department of Agriculture. The Department was able to showcase careers in international affairs, demystify the Foreign Service selection process and apprise students of its signature fellowship programs, including the Pickering and Rangel Fellowships. Jeffrey Simmons, Jr. of Florida A&M University, a seminar participant who is also a 2019 Rangel Fellow, shared his experiences working on Capitol Hill and encouraged other members of the cohort to apply to fellowship programs. 

For many of the students, the Seminar was their first formal exposure to careers in diplomacy. Seminar participant Quincy Reese, an aspiring Foreign Service officer from Colorado stated, “The time on this seminar was well spent, as the abundance of opportunities showed off by the Cox Foundation and Department of State revealed there was something to offer all fellows from a variety of backgrounds, majors and skill sets.” 

Heather Joy Thompson is a Foreign Service officer in the Office of Recruitment, Examination and Employment.

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