About HBCUs at State
The U.S Department of State seeks to engage and energize students about international relations and their role in our nation’s foreign policy. The Office of Public Liaison in the Bureau of Global Public Affairs coordinates the Department of State’s annual Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Foreign Policy Conference as well as brings together alumni of HBCUs to conduct outreach across the United States.
When it comes to my HBCU experience, sometimes it’s hard for me to find the words to describe my time at Hampton University, “My Home By the Sea” because my college experience was one to remember. One thing I miss the most is the community, which is why I love homecoming season! At Hampton I made life long relationships with my peers and professors. My professors invested in me, they spoke life into me, pushed me to my full potential and told me that I was capable of achieving anything. At my HBCU I was always surrounded by people who were ambitious, go-getters, and fearless which was inspiring. I learned how to pursue things without fear no matter what the outcome would be. During my freshmen year at Hampton I began interning at the U.S. Department of State, this is where I got a glimpse of what it would be like to work in international affairs. Fast forward to now and I couldn’t imagine a different career, where I have to be fearless, innovative and focused, diplomacy has become a lifestyle!
In the summer of 2013, while attending Hampton University, I studied abroad for the first-time. I was very nervous as I would be the first one in my family to leave the country but I was extremely supported by my HBCU every step of the way. My department even provided me with a scholarship to support my program costs when I came up short. That trip would not have been possible without them. It was on that trip, as the only African American woman in my cohort, that I discovered my passion for diversifying international affairs. I quickly learned how absent we were from global conversations on diplomacy, economic development, foreign policy and the likes. I was the only student from my department to study abroad and knew the vast impacts the experience would have on my life. I returned to Hampton University and spoke to incoming freshmen about studying abroad and pursuing careers in international affairs. Upon graduating from Hampton University in the fall of 2013. I decided to pursue a career in International Affairs. I applied for and was accepted to American University where I received a master’s degree in International Communications. During my tenure at American University I interned at the Department of State and was ultimately offered a full-time position upon completion. I would not be where I am today without the support of my HBCU. I had familial-like support in all of my endeavors and it is because of them that I was able to find my true passion. There is truly no place in the world like Hampton University.
My best HBCU memory would be the time when I attended Homecoming with my Grandfather (Class of 71’). It seemed as though life came full circle. Rewind back 15 years ago there I was in my grandfather’s office as he sang the Hampton Alma mater, little did I know I’d end up there as well speaking at a homecoming event alongside other alum and enjoying the beautiful faces and sweetness of the HBCU Homecoming experience. One thing I love most about my HBCU is its rich history, the place of where slaves were freed, the place where the Emancipation Proclamation was read. That’s what keeps me going, that’s what I love the most. —— Alma Mater: O Hampton, a thought sent from Heaven above, To be a great soul’s inspiration; We sing thee the earnest of broad human love, The shrine of our heart’s adoration. …
My HBCU experience was special for me, because of the professors who really were vested in seeing you achieve your personal and professional goals. My political science professors at Tougaloo College knew that I was interested in international relations, and although we had never previously participated helped register, prepare for and attend the Model U.N. Conference in New York. It was my first personal experience with international relations and opened my mind to international affairs careers. I have since been committed to teaching HBCU students about opportunities in the State Department, and also teaching foreign audiences about HBCUs through events such as International Education Week.
Heather Joy Thompson
Spelman College gave me a foundation to understand the world, assess its conditions, and chart a path to use my unique talents to bring about positive change . Spelman’s faculty and my Spelman Sisters, helped me to develop the intellectual and leadership tools to question and dismantle harmful our society’s biases and assumptions. My alma mater – filled with fiercely intelligent, principled, mighty, proud, confident, and talented Black women – enhanced my belief that I had the right and the responsibility to create a more just, loving, and fair society. As a mission-driven college, Spelman doubles down on that charge; each woman who walks through its doors learns early and often that she has an irrefutable duty to lead and to push ourselves, our neighbors, and our leadership to fulfill our highest ideals. My choice to attend Spelman College was both a manifestation of my personal aspirations and a reflection of the generational foundation of Black College excellence in my family. While I am the first Spelman alumna in my family, HBCU pride runs strong on my maternal and paternal sides. My brother, mother, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandmother were fortunate to matriculate at HBCUs across Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Delaware, Tennessee, and Washington, D.C. Spelman is my family, it is home. The HBCUs that span the United States from California to Florida, are my siblings, whom I support and uplift. Together, as an HBCU family, we will continue to build our communities and improve the station of African-Americans and the world. Spelman College Mission Statement Spelman College, a historically Black college and a global leader in the education of women of African descent, is dedicated to academic excellence in the liberal arts and sciences and the intellectual, creative, ethical, and leadership development of its students. Spelman empowers the whole person to engage the many cultures of the world and inspires a commitment to positive social change.