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NOVA students attend State Department conference

Northern Virginia Community College students and professors

Northern Virginia Community College students and professors attended a conference at the U.S. Department of State. (Left to right) Professor Linda Campos, Samme Sheikh, Ellen Choi, Professor Melissa Beaudoin, Tiffany Fabian, Clair Nguyen, Allison Beltran, and Furqan Bin Amjad. Not pictured: Thomas Horton.


A delegation of Northern Virginia Community College students recently attended the John C. Whitehead Conference on Diplomacy at the U.S. Department of State.

The NOVA delegation included students Allison Beltran of Hyattsville (Maryland), Furqan Bin Amjad of Bristow, Ellen Choi of Centreville, Tiffany Fabian of Manassas, Thomas Horton of Haymarket, Clair Nguyen of Aldie and Samme Sheikh of Chantilly, accompanied by professors Linda Campos and Melissa Beaudoin. Most of the students are in NOVA’s Honors Program that provides enrichment opportunities for motivated students.

Fabian, an Honors Program student at NOVA’s Manassas Campus, said she enjoyed learning about the work diplomats do as well as finding out about opportunities for students at the State Department. “It was inspiring to see how many women represent our country to foreign nations. I was thankful for the chance to meet and talk to them, many in high ranking positions,” she said.

Organized by the U.S. Diplomacy Center and the Diplomacy Center Foundation, “Discover Diplomacy: America’s Diplomats in a Changing World” brought together students, educators, ambassadors and foreign affairs specialists to discuss how America’s diplomats engage with international stakeholders to deal with critical multinational issues. 

The students attended several sessions about the mission and structure of the government’s diplomatic center and had numerous opportunities to visit with career foreign service officers and State Department officials while learning about the Foreign Service.

The highlight of the day was a crisis simulation. Based on their interests, students were assigned to a simulation about a global health, nuclear, environmental or refugee crisis. Each student was assigned to represent a specific country, intergovernmental or nongovernmental organization. Each country and organization had differing, and at times competing, interests, policies, beliefs and preferences. The task was to resolve the “crisis” while staying consistent with their positions. Students reported that the best part of the simulation was experiencing the frustrations and rewards of diplomacy.

At the end of the conference, the NOVA students attended a reception where they learned about State Department internships (domestic and international), career civil service opportunities, and how to apply for the Foreign Service Officer Test.

For more information about the conference or NOVA’s Honors Program, contact Manassas Campus Honors Chair Rebecca Hayes at rhayes@nvcc.edu.


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Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through NOVA Online. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.