During the State Department Diplomacy Briefing Conference on Sub-Saharan Africa in Washington D.C. this week, Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton addressed current issues, and allotted a Florida A&M University student, Calvin Hayes – one of three universities representatives – to pose a question regarding United States’ initiatives in bridging the gap between Africa countries and the U.S.
In FAMU Perry-Paige building 40 students, faculty and staff watched Secretary Clinton address the conference, along with the University of Central Florida and University of Southern Texas.
“President Obama visited Africa very early in his tenure to underscore the regions importance to the United States and gave a historic speech in Ghana that very clearly sounded a call to action, and set forth our basic principals,” said Clinton. “I was very privilege to visit Africa on a very long 11-day trip last August, and was able to carry that message and others throughout the continent.”
Secretary Clinton assured that the U.S. has been conducting high-level bilateral dialog with South Africa countries, stating that the U.S. is working to increase its relationship with the African union.
“The U.S. is going to do their part, but Africa countries have to their part,” said Clinton. “We are ready to help, but we need someone on the other side that’s willing.”
FAMU former vice-president of the Student Government Association Calvin Hayes, 22, asked Clinton how is the Obama Administration ensuring that the foreign aid meets the needs of the people in the local communities.
“Is there a comprehensive strategy to measure the efficiency of our appropriated resources, the accountability of disbursements and the sustainability of our efforts both in Zimbabwe and other countries in Sub- Saharan Africa?” asked Hayes. “If so, can you shed some light on the strategy and ways students and faculty at FAMU can become engaged in assisting communities in need in places like Zimbabwe and other Sub- Saharan African countries.”
In Clinton’s respond to Hayes, a senior public relations student from Orlando, she recommended that he take the Foreign Service exam when he graduates.
“We need young people like you,” said Clinton. “With your already existing experience plus your interest, we would be very interested in having you a part of the team here at the State Department.”
FAMU Office of International Education and Development Diplomat-in-Residence Ambassador Miriam Hughes, a member of the Senior Foreign Service of the U.S. Department of State, played a major role in getting the university the opportunity to conduct dialog with the Department of State briefing.
“I knew I had one more year as Foreign Service officer, and my strongest desire was to share with others the opportunity that I’ve had,” said Hughes. “So I asked, and I asked for FAMU.”
Lady Dhyana Ziegler, Ph.D. a professor of journalism at FAMU, along with Hughes, prepped Hayes prior to the briefing.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for FAMU, and I think that the secretary has made it a point to try to involve academic institutions and to really get us informed about what our policies are,” said Ziegler. “Calvin consulted me on the question, and I’m just so proud of him because indeed it played just the way we thought it would play and being a journalist it was a good proud day.”