Kerry Velez ’12 is pursuing her calling to work as a foreign diplomat after a 10-week internship at the U.S. Embassy in Australia last summer.
The Communication Studies major finished classes in December and is planning on taking the Foreign Service Exam.
“The internship had a really big effect on me,” Velez said during a visit to Emerson on February 12.
Velez, a native of North Potomac, Maryland, worked in the public affairs department at the embassy—helping organize press conferences and public awareness initiatives for political officials.
“I remember we went to Australian public schools on July 4 to talk about American Independence Day, because that’s something the children didn’t know about,” she said. “Australia is such a big ally of the United States that we did a lot of initiatives together.”
Velez described the month–long FBI background check for her internship as “high stakes” and said she met people from all over the world.
She also learned a lot about the country.
“It’s really beautiful and people seem to be really in tune with the environment. Maybe it’s because they have nicer weather than us, so they’re always outside,” Velez said.
One of the hot political issues there is the recently implemented tax on carbon emissions by businesses, which rises when businesses produce more carbon pollution.
“It was a big political issue because not everyone was OK with it,” Velez said. “But it’s a big step for a cleaner environment.”
Velez described the country as politically left-leaning. “Australians don’t understand U.S. gun control laws because nobody there has guns. They also don’t understand why we [in the U.S.] don’t have universal health care,” she said.
On her return trip to Emerson, Velez met with the classes of Associate Professor Gregory Payne of the Communication Studies Department; she said much of her interest in diplomacy arose from taking his classes on crisis communication and public diplomacy as a student. She was also part of the Communication, Politics and Law Association (CPLA).
“Being part of CPLA, I met a lot of people from all over the world and a couple of State Department officials,” Velez said. “I realized this field was something I was really interested in and I want to take it a step further.”