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Diplomat in the making: Department of State names IU Foreign Affairs Campus Coordinator



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Forrest Gatrell, Foreign Affairs Campus Coordinator for IU, poses Oct. 10 in Franklin Hall. He was appointed to the position by the State Department in September. Anna Brown Buy Photos

Forrest Gatrell was named IU’s Foreign Affairs Campus Coordinator by the State Department in September. Gatrell will be in this position until he graduates in May 2020 with a B.A. in political science and French. 

The purpose of the campus coordinator position is to establish partnerships with colleges and universities throughout the U.S. to better inform students about U.S. foreign policy priorities, according to a release from the State Department.

All campus coordinators are former interns from the State Department, and they help create a bridge between Washington, D.C., and colleges across the country.

“I am one of 18 campus coordinators in the United States and one of two in Indiana,” Gatrell said.

Gatrell’s main goal while in this position is to inform students on U.S. foreign policy and provide them with professional and networking opportunities. There was not a campus coordinator at IU last year, said Gatrell, and he wished there would have been so he could learn more. 

“I am glad that I am in this position and that I can share my knowledge and experiences with other student because there is not a lot of outreach between the State Department and many colleges and students in the U.S.,” Gatrell said.

During his time at the State Department, Gatrell said he learned a lot about different aspects of foreign policy and relations. After graduation, Gatrell said one day he hopes to return to the State Department and has taken the Foreign Service Officer Test.

In his role as campus coordinator, Gatrell is required to organize one event per semester, but he hopes to have monthly events of different calibers. He is planning his first town-hall-style event for Oct. 29 in order to give students an overview of his time at the State Department and answer questions students may have.

Gatrell also wants to have students who attend take a survey that would allow him to see what they want to know about the most. On top of this, Gatrell says it is important to inform students about the application process to be an intern and other ways to get involved at the State Department. 

In addition to events planned by Gatrell, the outreach program offers students services like phone and video conferences with State Department officials, round-table workshops for education and career development and the opportunity to take part in events for commemorative days like UN Day and World AIDS Day, according to the State Department.

“This program is designed to establish liaison relationships with students who are interested in foreign policy,” according to a release from Kayla Hammond, a management analyst at the Department of State.

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