KSU alum eyes career as a diplomat
Submitted by tdemel on Fri, 07/13/2012 - 5:23pm
Fresh from a year-and-a-half-long internship helping repatriate former child soldiers in Ghana, Kennesaw State alum Richard Walker picked up his graduate degree in conflict management and took off for a two-year stint in Botswana for the Peace Corps.
Those experiences, bolstered by a bachelor’s degree in international relations from the University of Georgia, have set him on a career course that he hopes will ultimately lead to a job as a career diplomat. He has started the arduous process that could take up to two years to complete, by studying for the foreign service exam, taking online assessments, oral exams and establishing residence on a registry for as many as 18 months.
“Having a direct hand in the peace-building process really catapulted my interest in international affairs, human rights, international security and international development,” said Walker, who interned in Ghana with Pittsburgh-based Mediators Beyond Borders.
Walker initially conducted research for the organization, then helped obtain identity documents for ex-combatants, talked to government officials, representatives of nongovernmental organizations and village elders to gain support so former Liberian child soldiers could be repatriated in their communities. He also completed research for his thesis, “Labor Market and Training Needs: Mapping of Reintegration Opportunities for Children Associated with Fighting Forces.”
For the Peace Corps, Walker worked as a capacitybuilding consultant for orphans, children living with HIV and other vulnerable children in Botswana. He helped the organization find ways to grow, introducing strategies and programming and helping to mobilize community support.
“The organization grew 10-fold,” he said proudly. “I’m really indebted to my professors in conflict management for cultivating my career path,” Walker said. “They also equipped me with negotiation and mediation skills and the ability to work in culturally diverse and stressful situations.”
Working so intensely in two distinct roles in very different African nations has had a life-changing and lasting impact on Walker, who grew up in Thomasville, Ga.
“I’m a completely different person, especially in the way I view people,” he said. “It’s all about simplicity. I’m not too concerned about [acquiring] material things to be happy. Friendships and relationships are the most important thing to me now.”
-- Sabbaye McGriff