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Hello, everyone. I’m Tony Blinken, your Secretary of State, and I’m delighted to join you for this year’s HBCU Foreign Policy Conference. As you may know, this is the 12th year that the State Department has held this conference.

I’m sorry that we can’t be together in person, but today’s virtual program is terrific.

So whether you’re joining us from your dorm room, living room, home office, or kitchen table – welcome.

Vice President Harris and I are thrilled that you’re here, because we believe deeply that the United States needs the strongest possible foreign policy and national security workforce.

We need America’s top minds and most committed public servants.

And that means you.

Historically Black Colleges and Universities have been raising up generations of American leaders for nearly two centuries. They do outstanding work mobilizing change in their communities, across the country, and around the world.

They are mission-driven institutions – and so are we.

That’s why we make a good team. For more than 200 years, the State Department has represented America to the world.

It’s a privilege and a huge responsibility.

And it’s been possible because of generations of Foreign Service and Civil Service employees – including many proud HBCU graduates, some of whom you’ll hear from today – who have done the hard work of formulating policy, carrying it out, communicating with other countries, finding solutions to problems, and helping make the United States a more perfect union. At our best, the State Department has been a place where people of all backgrounds, races, ethnicities, genders, religions, and nations of origin have been able to contribute and lead.

Diversity makes any organization stronger – and for the State Department, it’s mission-critical.

We are representing the United States. We need a workforce that reflects the diverse country we are. And the challenges we face are significant.

We need to make the most of everyone’s talents, ideas, and experiences. If you’re a student, you’ll learn more today about whether a career in diplomacy is right for you.

Our diplomats do everything from working with foreign governments on political and economic issues…to helping Americans dealing with problems abroad…to fostering cultural and educational exchanges with people around the world.

Whatever you’re passionate about – science, law, business, the environment – there’s a good chance you can pursue that passion at State. And if you’re here today as faculty, your institution may already have a partnership with the State Department.

If not, we’d like to change that, and this conference can help us get started. No matter what brings you here, I hope you leave with an even deeper understanding of how foreign policy works and why it matters.

Even if it may sometimes feel disconnected from your life, it’s all about you and your future. Will the planet be safe for your kids? How we will handle the next potential pandemic? What will the global economy be like in 10 years? How can we protect ourselves from countries or groups that would do us harm? These are just some of the questions foreign policy seeks to answer. The Biden Administration has major challenges on our to-do list – from bringing an end to COVID-19 to addressing the climate crisis to creating a humane and effective immigration system.

We are committed to delivering results for you and your families. And we will lead with our values – because ultimately, foreign policy isn’t just something we do. It reflects who we are and who we want to be. Thank you for your interest in diplomacy.

It’s a great field – I’ve dedicated my career to it.

We need people like you on our team. And I hope you have a great experience today.

Thank you.

U.S. Department of State

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