FAMU alumnus visits campus and talk about his years as a senior foreign service officer

Florida A& M alumnus Raymond Maxwell lives in Washington D.C., serving as a Senior Foreign Service Officer. He has made his way to FAMU to tell students about his 16-year service in foreign politics, diplomacy and global engagement.

He spoke to students at the School of Business and Industry (SBI) in room G12 Tuesday in honor of International Awareness Week.

“It’s an honor to be invited to return to my alma mater, FAMU, and to be able to represent the department of state and speak with you about my career and my work,” Maxwell said.

Born in Greensboro, N.C., Maxwell graduated FAMU in 1987 summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in economics. He joined the Navy ROTC for two years until he took and passed the Foreign Services Exam in 1992. Currently, he is the director of the U.S. Department of State Office of Near Eastern Regional Affairs.

Maxwell said his keynote address was not just to recruit students to join foreign services, but to expose students to other career options.

“We have a more important purpose, a higher purpose, and that is to expose FAMU students to the work of international relations and foreign affairs from our perspective, both as a potential career path and as a glimpse into how the world works,” Maxwell said.

To commemorate the university’s 10-year affiliation with the U.S. Department of State, the event began yesterday after 11 a.m. Joseph Jones, the International Research and Development Coordinator, gathered SBI’s surrounding classes and introduced U.S. Ambassador Miriam K. Hughes to welcome the guest speaker.

“We have a week of activities scheduled this week during International Awareness Week,” Jones said. “We are trying to promote diversity, understanding, cross-boards and language acquisition.”

Hughes is one of 16 diplomats in residence in the U.S. She serves as an ambassador “who has risen in the highest ranks in the diplomatic core at FAMU,” according to Jones.

“I’m delighted to be with [the students]. I work in Perry Paige north,” said Hughes.

Hughes, who has been at FAMU since last summer, also serves as one of the coordinators of the International Awareness Week, along with the Office of International and Development (OIED) and coordinator Frank Seidel.

Hughes gave Maxwell a welcome introduction before he spoke in front of a small audience of people, including Leon County Commissioner Bill Proctor.

“[Maxwell’s] office is in charge of trafficking and persons in the Middle East, narcotics, terrorism politics [and] terrorist finances,” Hughes said. “It’s a very sensitive and complex job.”

Maxwell and Jones studied Portuguese and some Arabic and encourage students to be multilingual in order to be competitive globally.

“Foreign language skills are certainly useful and are almost required in a lot of places,” Maxwell said. “There are a lot of places where you will work where you will have to speak in that language.”
Nathaniel Hargraves, 19, a first-year business administration student who was born in Germany and raised in Tallahassee, was in attendance to hear Maxwell speak.

“I’ll be going to the rest of the events because I have no class,” said Hargraves. “Lately, for whatever reason, I’ve had an urge to try to find a community service project in Africa. I’m also interested in learning in Latin American countries.”

Hargraves said he has future career goals to be a part of the CIA , U.S. Army and corporate America.

“I’m the kind of person that likes to have options and internationally, that’s an outlet; that’s what I want to do is focus on the international,” Hargraves said.

Hargraves, who is bilingual in Spanish and English, said he was interested in hearing Maxwell speak for networking and to learn.

“I’m excited because I like to learn,” Hargraves said. “I like to find out more about what other people do with their lives.”

Jones recommends students to take the Foreign Service exam. It’s for people between the ages of 18-59 and has an oral and a written assessment.

For a list of upcoming events scheduled for the rest of the week, go to OIED’s website at www.famu.edu/oied. To learn more information about foreign services, contact Miriam Hughes at miriam.hughes@famu.edu.