FAMU’s Diplomat in Residence encourages students to travel overseas


Jay T. Smith currently serves as FAMU’s diplomat in residence. Before Smith, Ambassador Miriam Hughes served as diplomat in residence. According to Joseph V. Jones, interim assistant vice president of the Office of International Education and Development, Diplomats in Residence typically stay for one academic year unless they request an extension.

Serving in the foreign service for almost 30 years and the federal government for almost 35 years, Smith has taken on a new task of reaching out to students here at FAMU.

Smith has served in 10 overseas posts while he and his wife raised their five children. Heavily influenced by John F. Kennedy and witnessing the tough times that the country has endured, Smith said that he has always been concerned with making the world a better place.

“My imagination has always been seized by engaging with foreign people and trying to solve crises and creating a climate where the countries of the world could live together in a cooperative way,” said Smith.

 Smith said being in contact with so many foreign cultures has been an enriching and broadening experience for both he and his family but that being at FAMU is no different.

“I’m brand new to FAMU culture here because I’m not from the South and I have no experience living in Fla. and certainly not with working on a college campus,” said Smith. “We have to make adjustments everywhere we go.”

According to Smith, as the Diplomat in Residence at FAMU, his duties include reaching out to interested members of the student body and other people and explaining what they do as well as the opportunities that people have to serve their country and enjoy a fulfilling career with the Department of State. 

Smith says that he decided to become Diplomat in Residence because it seemed like an interesting opportunity and that what he enjoys most about it is having the opportunity to affect the future.

“It’s a great opportunity to engage with the next generation,” said Smith. “People like me are not going to be around forever so it’s a way for me to affect the future of the Foreign Service, something that I care very much about.”

Smith plans to be at FAMU for at least one academic year and after leaving FAMU he plans to go back overseas to somewhere in the Bureau of African Affairs.

Smith said he wants to find students that are smart and motivated and students that are looking to gain new experiences. Smith also wants people to know that it is possible to reach him.

“My door is not always open but it’s frequently open,” said Smith.

For anyone who is interested in contacting Smith, his office can be found in Perry Paige room 304.