Hey Travelers! I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I would have a chance to represent my country as a U.S. diplomat. It is an honor and privilege of a lifetime. In the article and video below, we delve into my journey of how I became a U.S. diplomat. When I was in school I had no idea this career existed! I transformed from a high school student with no knowledge of diplomacy to a United States diplomat. It was NOT an easy journey by any means. However, I am hoping that my story serves as a testament to the power of determination, seizing opportunities, and trusting God. My path was far from conventional, but it ultimately led me to a fulfilling career as a Foreign Service Officer.
I come from a middle-class, working-class neighborhood that was predominantly African-American. Growing up, I had no exposure to diplomats or careers in diplomacy. The concept of getting paid to learn languages and travel the world was a distant dream. In high school, I attended a school specializing in math, engineering, and science. Although I did well academically in the end, I didn’t have a burning passion for these subjects.
Upon entering Juniata College, I initially pursued a pre-med track. However, I soon realized that science wasn’t my calling. I had to work extremely hard to get a C- in Biology. So, I switched majors to sociology and developed an interest in understanding how people and institutions interacted. I also considered a history minor during this time. During this time, my journey was marked by a lot of uncertainty. It was a STRUGGLE to find my purpose.
During the summer before my junior year, I decided to gain some work experience and applied for internships. She landed an internship at the World Trade Center in Baltimore, an unexpected opportunity. During that summer, I escorted delegations from other countries around Baltimore, engaging in cultural programming. This experience introduced me to the concept of public diplomacy, one of the five cones in the Foreign Service.
One pivotal moment in my journey was my decision to study abroad in India during my college years. This experience was LIFE-CHANGING! It was one of the BEST experiences of my life and ignited my desire to pursue a career overseas. It marked the beginning of my fascination with languages and international experiences.
When I came back from India, I decided to learn Spanish to open up more opportunities. I worked tirelessly between her junior and senior years to become proficient in the language. This dedication led me to apply for programs that would allow me to live in a Spanish-speaking country. I eventually found a teaching opportunity in Spain.
My journey took an unexpected turn when her contract in Spain wasn’t renewed. Honestly, it was a blessing in disguise. It was during this challenging period that I received an invitation from a friend to work in China for an international startup company focused on education. I embraced the opportunity, despite initially having no plans to live in China.
Returning to the United States, I found a job in a study abroad office, where I helped a lot of students pursue international experiences. This job rekindled my passion for international affairs and reminded me of the impact of studying abroad.
During my time working in the study abroad office, I discovered the Rangel Fellowship and the Foreign Service. Initially doubting my qualifications, I decided to apply and, to my surprise, was accepted into the fellowship program. This marked the beginning of my journey into the world of diplomacy.
The Rangel Fellowship provided me with the opportunity to have my graduate degree paid for while interning on Capitol Hill and at the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi. These experiences were transformative and paved the way for my eventual entry into the Foreign Service.
After completing the fellowship and passing the necessary assessments, I embarked on my journey as a Foreign Service Officer. My first posting was in Brazil.
My journey from an uncertain student to a United States diplomat highlights the importance of seizing opportunities and pursuing your passions. I hope my story serves as a source of inspiration for those who aspire to carve unconventional paths in their careers. While everyone’s journey is unique, I hope that I have shown that determination, adaptability, and the courage to embrace unexpected opportunities, can help you achieve your dreams in unexpected ways.
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