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DeEtta Cravens

Political Science, Spanish & Philosophy, 2012.

Master of Public Policy, Harvard University, 2016.


Foreign Service Officer (Diplomat), US Department of State.

Briefly describe your career path. 

My path to the Foreign Service was very direct. I (literally) made a 5-year plan my sophomore year which included studying abroad, learning two new languages, completing Fulbright and Boren fellowships, and getting a Master’s degree. I pursued this plan because I thought it was “the way to the Foreign Service.” The truth, though, is that there is no “correct” path to this career; U.S. diplomats come from a wide range of professional backgrounds.

Describe what an average day looks like. 

In the mornings, I adjudicate Non-Immigrant (NIV) or Immigrant (IV) visa cases. This requires applying U.S. immigration law to determine whether or not an applicant is qualified to receive a U.S. visa. Between NIV and IV, there are over 40 visa categories, and each one carries different requirements. In the afternoons, I work in the American Citizen Services Unit to provide routine and emergency services to U.S. citizens abroad. This ranges from offering notary services, to notifying deceased citizens’ next-of-kin of their family members’ deaths, to visiting incarcerated U.S. citizens.

...I would tell my college self to venture outside my comfort zone as much as possible.

What advice would you give your college self about pursuing work in your current industry? 

Being a diplomat requires a diverse set of skills. Our work varies so much from country to country, from day to day, and from job to job. The most important skills for this career are the ability to learn quickly and adapt to changing environments and situations. In that regard, I would tell my college self to venture outside my comfort zone as much as possible. Working or studying in a foreign country is one of the best ways to build these skills because you will likely meet new challenges every day. 

What is a lesson learned at OKCU that you have been able to apply to your career? 

Being a member of so many organizations, I learned what it means to “represent” something. I learned that when people looked at me, they not only saw DeEtta Cravens, but also Alpha Chi Omega, Black Student Association, Political Science Department, etc. How people perceived me was a reflection of those organizations and vice versa. That applies directly to my position now; in other countries, I represent the United States – its people, its government, its history – and I have to act accordingly.

What is the most significant thing that’s happened to you since graduating? 

Given that I had been working toward this career since 2010, finally being sworn in and receiving my first assignment (U.S. Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela) as a diplomat was pretty significant for my family and I. It was the culmination of six years of hard work and dedication to a single goal. It was also significant because I come from a low-income background; graduating from Harvard and becoming a diplomat are two things I never even dreamed of – or considered possible – as a child. I owe a lot to other people who supported me. When I think about the village it took to get me here, it feels pretty significant. 

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? 

I hope to still be a U.S. diplomat in ten years. I enjoy this work and want to make it a career. In ten years, I hope to be specializing in public diplomacy efforts within the Foreign Service. This would include managing U.S. government-funded exchange programs, designing cross-cultural programs abroad, and disseminating U.S. policy messages to foreign media.

What is your favorite OKCU memory? 

I have great memories with my Alpha Chi Omega sisters and the members of Black Student Association. Specifically, LipSync (woot, woot!) and a BSA retreat. Also, I studied abroad twice in college – to Chile and Brazil. My experiences from those programs are among the best of my life.