CUNY Responds to Powell’s Call for More Minority Diplomats

A keystone of Secretary of State Colin Powell’s tenure at the State
Department has been a commitment to increase minority representation in the Foreign Service. To that end he has reorganized the State Department hierarchy and dramatically increased the allocation of funds for recruitment of new personnel. His efforts have been supported in Congress by the dean of New York’s Congressional delegation, Charles Rangel.

Secretary Powell speaking at City College.
Their efforts led to the special appropriation of $1 million to the State Department to prepare students for the Foreign Service at historically black colleges (the funds are disbursed by Howard University). During the signing of the agreement that formalized the disbursement at the State Department last May, Powell, a CCNY Class of ‘58 alumnus, forcefully articulated his commitment to increasing minority representation in the Foreign Service.

On October 8, representatives of the nineteen CUNY colleges met at City College to launch CUNY’s entry into this diplomatic workforce development initiative.

City College, which has been participating in Howard University’s program, has presented its own proposal to Congressman Rangel for a New York-based initiative that would recruit students at all CUNY campuses into the Foreign Service. CCNY’s Colin Powell Center for Policy Studies will be the coordinating body.

The College has already taken a first step by persuading the State Department to place a Diplomat-in-Residence (DIR) in the Powell Center. At the October 8 meeting, CCNY President Gregory Williams introduced the new DIR, Mark Minton, who was a DIR at Baruch College last year and has experience in preparing candidates for the Foreign Service exam. (Only about 500 of the 15,000 who sit for the exam each year are accepted as junior Foreign Service officers.)

Minton is the only DIR in the Northeastern U.S. and his arrival at CCNY was in large part due to the efforts of Dr. Marina Fernando, the director of the College’s International Studies Program.

Over his 24-year career, Minton has been posted in many parts of Asia, notably as Consul-General in Sapporo, where he helped to negotiate Japan’s $13 billion contribution to the 1991 Persian Gulf War effort.

Hopeful Future M.D. Wins Powell Scholarship

Yashotha Rajeswaran, a CCNY freshman who graduated last spring from Benjamin Cardozo High School in Queens, has become the latest winner of the Maud and Luther Powell America’s Promise Scholarship, founded by Colin Powell and his family in honor of his parents.

She received the award on October 24 from Mrs. Clarett Forbes, Vice President of Nursing at Bronx Lebanon Hospital and a cousin of Secretary Powell, seen at far right.

The award pays full tuition for up to four years at City College to an outstanding graduate of a City high school. While at Cardozo, Rajeswaran participated in the school’s prestigious DaVinci Math and Science program and its Bridge to Medicine Program. She is now a freshman at the Sophie Davis School.

Noting that universities like Georgetown have sustained a culture in which students are routinely oriented toward diplomatic careers, CUNY representatives saw the need to create an environment on their campuses in which students would see themselves as Foreign Service material and focus their studies on international affairs. Two CUNY campuses, City College and the College of Staten Island, already have undergraduate International Studies programs. City College and the Graduate Center, which operate Master’s programs in International Relations, have a ready-made pool of candidates for the diplomatic service.

Campus representatives of this initiative will also encourage their students to apply for State Department internships under Minton’s guidance. Minton, who is confident that CUNY can produce a cadre of successful candidates by the end of the academic year, envisions a long-term program that will make New York City, with its concentration of minority populations and “new Americans,” a major recruiting ground for minority candidates for the Foreign Service. Their entry into the Foreign Service, he believes, will more truly present the face of America abroad.

Sharmeen Ahmed, a 19-year-old International Studies senior, hopes to make the cut at the exam next spring. A naturalized American born in Bangladesh, Ahmed says, “For me it’s a way of giving back to my country. I think minorities make good ambassadors because they represent the diverse make-up of America, a nation of immigrants.”
Contents October 2002

$7.5M State Grant Launches Incubator Network

Students Reaping Benefits of Technology Fee

Georgian Elegance, 21st-Century Technology Joined in Reborn Brooklyn College Library

Launching LaGuardia Students Toward Animal Planet

From ’60s Activist Ranks to Executive Suite

Digging the City’s Past

Poet Laureate Collins Takes his Cue on Evil

A WWII Mobilization in The Tale of The Ticker

Subversive Feminist Julia De Burgos Celebrated at Hostos

Italian "Enemy Alien" Experience in WWWII

Museum at Queens College Spans Six Centuries of Art

Celebrating Scholarly “Pleasures of the Mind”

Valued Vets Toasted at the Central Office

CUNY Responds to Powell’s Call for More Minority Diplomats

LaGuardia and Lehman Honored for Freshman Year Programs

Former Brooklyn College Philosopher Turns Philanthropist