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Sophomore and junior attend competitive State Department seminar

November 25, 2020

University of North Georgia (UNG) sophomore Dylan Gonzalez has always been interested in foreign issues. UNG junior Zoe Rumbaugh wants to use her Chinese language skills and knowledge of East Asia in her future career.

Both students explored the option of being a Foreign Service officer during the highly competitive Cox-State Department Diplomacy Seminar. Rumbaugh, who is in the Chinese Language Flagship program, and Gonzalez, a member of the Corps of Cadets and UNG Military Scholarship recipient, won entrance into the professional exploration program held virtually in October.

"It was so well-organized and even fun. Considering it was online, the seminar really impressed me," said Gonzalez, who is pursuing degrees in international affairs and political science with a pre-law concentration. "We had the amazing opportunity to hear from and ask questions of two ambassadors, current Foreign Service officers, and Pickering and Rangel Fellows. This made it an extremely rich experience."

Their selections mark the second consecutive time UNG students have participated in the Cox-State Seminar. UNG senior Katherine Torres was selected for the national program last year.

"When Kat won, the selection rate was 5%," said Dr. Anastasia Lin, assistant vice president of research and engagement. "Now we have two winners."

Participants in the Cox-State Department Diplomacy Seminar are undergraduate students from groups historically underrepresented in the Foreign Service. They are provided an opportunity to understand diplomats' role and learn about the internship and career pathways in the Foreign Service and Civil Service at the Department of State. The professional development seminar offers participants the ability to directly engage with ambassadors, Foreign Service officers and State Department employees.

Rumbaugh and Gonzalez said their favorite part of the virtual conference was an hourlong one-on-one conversation with a current Foreign Service officer.

"I learned a lot about the officer's struggles throughout her career, how it affects family life, and all the benefits that come with having a career in the Foreign Service," Gonzalez said.

The weeklong conference solidified the UNG students' decisions to pursue careers as Foreign Service officers and seek other higher education opportunities. Rumbaugh plans to explore internship opportunities as well as the Rangel and Pickering Fellowships. Gonzalez aims to attend graduate school before he takes the Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT).

"It is a long process to join the service," he said. "I am going to gain more knowledge about what is happening in the world politically and economically, so I can be prepared to take the FSOT and be prepared to represent the United States when I become a Foreign Service officer."

Both advised any other students interested in a Foreign Service career to apply for the annual seminar.

"For only five days, I received an amazingly large amount of important information, resources and encouragement," said Rumbaugh, who is pursuing degrees in modern languages with a concentration in Chinese and East Asian Studies. "It has given me confidence to continue pursuing this career path."

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