Come serve world, State Dept. asks black college students

by Meagan Downing, Domanique Jordan and Janiece Peterson

From left to right, Meagan Downing; Cheryl Benton, deputy assistant secretary for public affairs, and Janiece Peterson>
WASHINGTON – Three hundred students and professors from 13 institutions participated Friday in the <a href=2012 Historically Black Colleges and Universities Foreign Policy Conference at the U.S. Department of State.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was overseas yet she delivered a 3-minute video greeting at the start of the four-hour, seven-session event. Presenters briefed students and faculty on the "Arab spring," U.S.-China relations that included the 100,000-Strong Initiative and the U.S. Global Health Initiative. State Department experts encouraged visitors to ask questions and there were at least 30 audience queries.

A handful of students were asked what they learned or hoped to gain from the visit:

Raymond Smith, freshman, St. Augustine's College, math engineering: "I am very pleased with the turnout and very impressed with the speakers. From this experience I hope to become more globally aware. This also gives me more networking opportunities."

Jasmine McElroy, sophomore, Howard University, marketing: "[I came for] networking. I co-founded an organization called Diversity First in partnership with the CEO of the National Diversity Council. [I look forward to] networking opportunities for myself and others."

Alvin Williams II, senior, Elizabeth City State University, political science: "I like that we get to ask questions and that they're responding. I'm going to take the Foreign Service exam. I had never thought about it. "

Shannon Crowner, junior, Bowie State, history: "The reason why I decided to come to the conference is because I am interested in international relations and foreign policies. I also felt that it a great study abroad opportunity. I really enjoyed hearing [Deputy Secretary of State] William Burns speak. He has worked for the Department of State for a long time and I could see he is really passionate about it."

Michael Brown, freshman, Bowie State, sports management: "By attending this conference, I feel that it is a great way for me to educate myself more about topics here today that I did not know about."

Fast facts: Hillary Clinton's first trip as secretary of state was to Asia and since that initial journey she has taken 10 trips. Nevertheless, Europe remains important and the European Union represents 30 percent of the global economy ... in Africa, the continent is now home to six of the world's 10 fastest-growing economies ... China is the USA's second largest trade partner after Canada. China's population is 1.4 billion, but its people live on 6 percent of earth's arable land ... U.S. Foreign Service officers extensively use YouTube, Twitter and Facebook to do their work. Twenty eight percent of new Foreign Service entrants last year were people of color. – Compiled by Wayne Dawkins

The writers are students at the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

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