As the sun began to set over the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial on a Friday evening, TFAS students embarked on a memorable and educationally enriching visit to our nation’s first executive department – the U.S. Department of State. After shuffling through the security protocol and checking in with the registration desk, Capital Semester on Leadership + the American Presidency students stirred with excitement over the opportunity to tour a building in which the most esteemed diplomats and government officials have discussed influential trade agreements and salient foreign policy matters.
The tour began with a brief walk through the marble lobby decorated with flags representing each country with whom the United States has diplomatic relations. Special assistant to the secretary and TFAS summer program mentor Victoria Ellington then led students up the elevators to the 7th floor of the department, where Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s office is located. The floor opens into a large room furnished with oil portraits of former secretaries of state. The collection lines the corridors of the 7th floor and spills into the Treaty Room Suite. It includes paintings of former secretaries from Thomas Jefferson up to Condoleezza Rice. TFAS students then had the opportunity to meet with immediate staff members of Secretary Pompeo, and learn about the role each of them plays in assisting the secretary.
Students marveled at the chance to see firsthand the inner workings of such a valuable component of the Executive Branch and receive helpful advice from department staff.
“The tour of the State Department was an amazing and unique opportunity to experience,” said Ebony Tyson ’19. “As a college senior that is interested in a career in foreign affairs, I appreciated the chance to talk to employees and foreign service officers to gain more insight on what the job entails on a daily basis. Furthermore, the tour reminded me of why I decided to pursue an interest in international development, and inspired me to continue my journey in hopes of eventually obtaining a job in the State Department as well.”
A special thank you to TFAS mentor Victoria Ellington for arranging the tour.