FAMU alumnus sworn into Foreign Service

In a class of 40, Florida A&M alumnus Calvin Hayes was officially sworn into the 172nd Foreign Service Officer Class on June 28.

The class was sworn in by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, director general of the Foreign Service, at a ceremony in Washington at the U.S. Department of State.

Hayes will serve as a public diplomacy officer. According to the Department of State, a public diplomacy officer’s duties include explaining foreign policy to foreign audiences, creating and managing cultural and information programs to help engage in different cultures, strengthening relationships abroad through media and coordinating foreign exchange programs.

Before serving in Dhaka, Bangladesh, for two years, Hayes will spend eight months at the Foreign Service Institute in Arlington, Va., learning the local language, Bengali. He expects to work in Africa and eventually Latin America.

He and his wife, Kindall “Sunshine” Johnson – a FAMU School of Journalism & Graphic Communication alumna, former Miss FAMU and employee in the Office of National Security in Washington – will depart spring 2014. The two will also go to India, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Nepal and Indonesia, Hayes said.

Lady Dhyana Ziegler, an SJGC professor and vice president of membership for the Public Members Association of the Foreign Service, attended the ceremony. Of the 200-300 attendees, she said, were many of Hayes’ friends and family members.

Ziegler taught Hayes and introduced him to Ambassador Teddy Taylor, who is also a FAMU alumnus, when he was visiting one of her classes. Ziegler said she knew the job was right for Hayes and encouraged him because she saw that he had all the attributes to become an effective diplomat: intelligence, focus, personality, dedication and strong conviction.

Although Foreign Service is no easy job, she expects Hayes to be an exceptional member.

“He will do well in the Foreign Service because he is well-grounded and intelligent,” Ziegler said. “All in all, he is a great young man, and I know his family, FAMU family and me are so very proud of him. He will represent with dignity.”

Hayes said he was driven to become a diplomat because he felt he had “a calling to improve the human condition, advocate for justice and serve those that are in need both domestic and overseas.”

“The Foreign Service offers me a unique challenge and opportunity to be an international humanitarian while also promoting global peace and prosperity throughout the world,” he said.

Hayes graduated in 2010 with a double major in political science and public relations. While on campus, he was an active participant in the Student Government Association, NAACP and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. He credits these organizations for teaching him the value of teamwork and leadership.

Hayes also completed two internships and received the $90,000 Rangle Scholarship to become a foreign service officer.  He earned his master’s in public diplomacy this year from American University.

Before becoming an officer, he worked on Capitol Hill, the State Department Bureau of Legislative Affairs and the U.S. Embassy in South Africa.

Hayes encourages FAMU students to study abroad, learn a critical language and complete an internship overseas.

“I believe that if you are not challenged, you are not changed,” he said. “You have to put yourself in the best position to be the change that you wish to see. A dream only meets reality when strategy meets discipline.

“Be immune to mediocrity and be allergic to average. Everything you are experiencing now is preparing you for your moment … Practice well, study well, prepare well and define every moment. Trust God, embrace FAMU and you will reap a harvest if you stay focused.”