State Department Work Gives Public Policy Student Prized Experience
Oct. 25, 2013
Walking through the State Department's front doors in Washington, D.C., every day is something Daniel Hinson will never forget.
Dan Hinson, a public policy graduate student, learned about State Department internships during an information session on campus.
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in political science from UT Dallas in spring 2012, Hinson was selected to be an intern with the State Department’s Office of the Secretary’s Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs (S/SRGIA) in January.
“There is an enormous sense of gravity and importance there that is difficult to describe,” Hinson said. “I can’t tell you how lucky I was to land in S/SRGIA.”
The Dallas native said he initially became aware of internship opportunities with the State Department during an information session the department hosted on campus. While working as an intern in the nation’s capital, he was able to earn credit for independent study toward his master’s of public policy degree.
According to its website, the special representative serves the global needs of U.S. intergovernmental officials and their counterparts abroad so they can collaborate on international issues. As an intern, Hinson was responsible for drafting diplomatic cables, reports and other correspondence for then-special representative Reta Jo Lewis and supporting meetings between the U.S. and foreign officials.
When his internship concluded, Lewis developed a short-term position for Hinson. As staff assistant, he participated in meetings and helped manage the schedule and external communications of the acting special representative, Mary Pensabene.
About Daniel Hinson
Education: Current master's of public policy student, earned BA in political science in 2012 from UT Dallas
Position: Program analyst, Office of Foreign Missions' Bureau of Diplomatic Security, U.S. Department of State
Previously: Staff assistant for the Secretary of State’s Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs, U.S. Department of State
Academic interests: Race, gender, ethnicity, social inclusion in foreign and domestic policy
Hinson said he “fell in love with D.C.,” and enjoyed walking past the White House on his way home from work.
“There is such rich, historical atmosphere to the District, and the architectural beauty rivals anyplace else in the country,” he said.
Through a competitive, government-wide internship program called Pathways, Hinson transferred to a program analyst position with the Bureau of Diplomatic Security’s Office of Foreign Missions in New York in July. The bureau is the security and law enforcement arm of the State Department.
After his selection, Hinson decided to finish his master’s degree from the University online. At the conclusion of the internship, participants become eligible to convert to full-time federal employment.
"Given the importance of this experience and Dan's ability to convert his status to a career position in the State Department, I was delighted to work out a way for him to complete his last two required classes online,” said Dr. Jennifer Holmes, program head of public policy and political economy. “We are so proud of him and look forward to having another alumnus of our program working for the State Department."
Hinson enjoys living in New York and says it’s an endlessly exciting place.
“I especially enjoy the theater and live music scenes here; I recently saw a performance of The Glass Menagerie that was startlingly good, and had a lot of fun attending the MTV Video Music Awards in August,” he said. “New York also is a great place to enjoy outdoor activities like walking the High Line or spending an afternoon in Central Park. I like to make time for kayaking, sailing and running along the river.”
“(The classes I taught Hinson) were all graduate-level seminars, so you sort of depend on the students to drive the discussions. He was one of the students who led that effort.”
Hinson’s excitement isn’t limited to his recreation time. He attended a formal reception for heads of the U.S. delegation to the United Nations hosted by President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama in September.
Hinson said completing his last remaining credits online is challenging, especially with the distractions of the city and the demands of his job. He credits his undergraduate education in the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences for providing him a comprehensive base of knowledge to build upon through his work-world experiences.
Dr. Banks Miller, assistant professor of political science, remembers Hinson as a well-prepared, level-headed student who could think on his feet – traits Miller said would be fitting for a career in foreign affairs.
“He was very active in class,” Miller said. “(The classes I taught Hinson) were all graduate-level seminars, so you sort of depend on the students to drive the discussions. He was one of the students who led that effort.”
Hinson is slated to complete his master’s degree this spring and is exploring careers as a Diplomatic Security special agent or a Foreign Service officer serving overseas.