It was a foggy drive across the flat Oklahoma countryside to Talequah. I rarely visit the parent Northeastern State University campus but the 65-mile drive to the state’s oldest institution of higher learning was worth it this morning. We arrived with plenty of time and took seating close to the front of the room.
Dr. Datta, an appropriately named computer science professor, normally teaches an 11:00 A.M. class in this room but today there was a special speaker. Mr. Rich Bell, a 34-year-old foreign service officer from the U.S. Department of State, flew from Washington, D.C. to pay the campus a visit.
Mr. Bell wore a vest and tie but held no notes and gave no PowerPoint presentation. Instead he brought the energy, wits, and personality that only come through deliberate life experience accrued in foreign travel. “I work for the U.S. Department of State,” he began. “When I’m feeling important I call myself a diplomat.” Mr. Bell explained that like most of the students in the room, he had been a computer science major. He used this undergraduate degree as a stepping stone to law school. After graduating the University of Pittsburg with a Bachelor in Computer Science, he eventually attended Texas A&M for a short while before working at the U.S. Department of State in 2010. A good writer with interpersonal skills uncharacteristic of a tech-oriented individual, he quickly climbed the department and now serves as a recruiter and interviewer when he’s not living overseas assisting ambassadors in their technical needs.