Our "Photo of the Week" captures a moment during Secretary of State John Kerry's visit to the University of Virginia (UVA), which was founded in 1819 by our first Secretary of State -- Thomas Jefferson. The photograph shows Secretary Kerry speaking with students at the university.
As a graduate of UVA and a Foreign Service Officer with the State Department, I have a special place in my heart for our first Secretary of State and the founder of the University of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson. Mr. Jefferson (as he is known at UVA) was one of this country's first public servants, and his legacy of service -- both at home and abroad -- lives on, both at State and the university.
As I walked into the university's Old Cabell Hall, I was reminded of a long-forgotten memory. My last experience in that room had involved anxiously filling a blue book -- or three -- with essays for one of my undergraduate classes: "The History of the United States to 1865." Fortunately, my return to Old Cabel Hall was a more enjoyable experience than that final exam many years ago -- I was back at UVA as a member of the Department of State's Public Affairs team staffing Secretary Kerry's first major policy speech.
In his remarks, Secretary Kerry spoke extensively about the importance of our foreign policy, making the point personal to students when he said, "a wise investment in foreign policy can yield for a nation the same return that education can yield for a student."
Throughout his speech, Secretary Kerry spotlighted many programs that the State Department and USAID support and implement internationally. As he mentioned each of them -- PEPFAR, Feed the Future, women's rights programs, international exchange projects, global health initiatives against malaria and polio -- I thought of my friends and colleagues around the world who serve the American public every day by helping to make life a little better for people in other countries and the world safer and more secure for all of us.
Secretary Kerry emphasized that America's return on investment for those programs is tangible -- not only as former aid recipients become trading partners but also as healthy, educated populations produce stable governments and invested, responsible members of the international community. It reminded me of one of Mr. Jefferson's many famous quotes:
"Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day."Related Content: Change the World -- Join the Foreign Service