The 17th annual Summer Institute for Future Global Leaders in the Caribbean takes place at the University of the Virgin Islands’ St. Thomas Campus. A total of 31 students have been chosen by their respective institutions to try and map out the next twenty years of their lives over the course of the two week conference. As the conference began, the group got some insight about what those years could look like from a highly placed State Department official as the two-week institute commenced on Tuesday morning. Cheryl Benton, deputy assistant secretary of the Bureau of Public Affairs at the U.S. State Department, told the young people they needed to be grounded in faith and connected to family in order to function effectively in “the most difficult and dynamic environment” they could work in. Mrs Benton achieved her high-profile position by political appointment, having worked as co-chair of Women of Color for Hillary Clinton during her run for the White House. She went on to say that 10 years ago there were no black women at all in any high ranking positions in the State Department, and that she was very proud of her achievements.
The students seemed captivated by Benton’s address, still asking pertinent, well-informed questions as the hour allotted for the opening ceremony came to an end.
Though globalism is not a new concept, as pointed out by institute co-founder Ronald E. Harrigan, effecting change on a global level at a time of diminishing resources makes the prospect of global careers more challenging.