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Diplomat Says Less Traveled Roads Can Lead to Success

By Rori Francis Blakeney

Robert Frost’s metaphor about two roads diverged in a yellow wood in The Road Not Taken was quite appropriate for alumnus Paul Rowe’s presentation on September 1. A career employee of the State Department, Rowe ’67, who earned a degree in political science, shared with faculty and students the benefits of taking tough assignments.

“I didn’t wait on the prestige appointments like England or Paris. I was willing to travel to Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Cameroon,” he said. Rowe said his decision to take the road less traveled provided opportunities for him to grow and develop. “I received greater responsibilities because of my decision to take a hardship post,” he said.

These hardship posts are where he and his family could have experienced crime, poor medical facilities, extreme climates or isolation. Spending 18 of his 22 years of service abroad, he said, “[my career] has been rewarding culturally and intellectually.”

Dominque Warren, a junior International Studies major who is planning to take the Foreign Service exam in April, is considering a career as a Foreign Service officer. He found Rowe’s journey fascinating.

“It was really helpful to learn about the benefits and the time commitment,” Warren said.

Rowe’s visit to campus was part of the United States Secretary of State's Hometown Diplomat Program. A recruitment effort started by former secretary of state Colin Powell, the program sends state department employees around the country to spread its message. In a press release, Powell said: ''They [state department employees] can explain what the State Department does, how foreign policy affects Americans' lives, why we need more resources to do our jobs, and how interested people can join our team. Reaching out to the public in this way puts a face on foreign policy.''

“It was encouraging to see that a Morehouse College graduate has done this,” Warren said. “It gives me someone to connect with as I pursue my career in Foreign Service.”

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