Senior Foreign Service Officer Michael E. Thurston will serve as Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University's (FAMU) new Diplomat in Residence for the 2014-2015 academic year. Thurston was appointed by the U.S. Department of State to serve as the Diplomat in Residence for the entire Southeast region and will be housed at FAMU's Office of International Education and Development.
Thurston's first lecture at the university will be held on July 23 at 3 p.m. at FAMU's Coleman Library as a part of the Graduate Studies and Research Programs' Professional Development Workshop Series. He will discuss opportunities offered by the Department of State and its Diplomat in Residence Program.
According to Thurston, his time at FAMU will be spent recruiting and mentoring students who wish to pursue careers with international connections through the U.S. Department of State, as well as serving as a guest lecturer and resource to the university's faculty on foreign policy and international relations.
"My goal and priority is to raise the level of awareness of the Department of State as a great and viable option for those interested in serving their country's interests overseas," Thurston said. "I'd like the students to understand that the important role of a U.S. diplomat is open to all to them, and that they can be an important part in making sure that our diplomats overseas better reflect the diversity that is the U.S. today."
Prior to accepting his appointment as Diplomat in Residence, Thurston served in Afghanistan as the political advisor and senior civilian to the Special Operations Joint Task Force/ NATO Special Operations Command and as the Charge d'Affaires (acting ambassador) in Burma. His previous posts include Australia, Ethiopia, Iraq, Mexico, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Africa (Durban) and Sri Lanka.
According to Thurston, his new assignment as Diplomat in Residence is just as important to him as his global travels. He explained that his placement at FAMU is a perfect match for allowing him to reach back.
"Looking at FAMU and its history, as well as the Southeast region and the need to increase its representation in the Department of State, I feel that at this time FAMU is the best fit for me," said Thurston. "I'd like to think that I would be a positive influence with the students and demonstrate to them that the Department of State is a viable career option."