Samantha Hubner, a rising senior political science major with minors in Chinese and French in the Honors Program, is spending the summer in Washington D.C. working for the U.S. State Department’s Office of Global Food Security, an office that works directly with the Obama Administration’s Feed the Future Initiative. Hubner’s story is one of determination, hard work and a dream-big attitude.
Working alongside Feed the Future, a program that concentrates on addressing development countries and world hunger, Hubner will spend the summer researching, analyzing and summarizing reports, while dabbling in event planning, too.
The U.S. China Strategic and Economic Dialogue will be held on June 23 and, as described on the website of the Department of the Treasury, “was established by President Obama and Chinese President Hu in April 2009 and represents the highest-level bilateral forum to discuss a broad range of issues between the two nations.” Hubner will assist in planning the biannual dialogue that seeks to advance a positive relationship between China and the U.S.
Working in D.C. is something that Hubner said she has always known she wanted to do, and the unique opportunity that intertwines her political interests, desire to work in foreign services and Chinese language skills is one not easily found. It took a grueling 10-month hiring process, but Hubner believes that “it is a great example of how demonstrating enthusiasm and a strong work ethic can take you anywhere you want to go!”
While writing Christmas cards with Belmont Chinese Professor Dr. Joan Li, Hubner received a call saying she had been tentatively selected for a spot in the Office of East Asian Affairs and was invited to begin the security clearance process. At the end of the semester, Hubner was informed that all positions had been filled, but there was a need for an intern in the Office of Food Security. She said, “I was not even sure what exactly food security pertained to, but I was nonetheless intrigued by the opportunity, not to mention determined to keep fighting for my dream internship. The interview was extensive, during which I even had the chance to showcase my Chinese… I received a job offer the next day, which I enthusiastically accepted!”
Hubner credits her time at Belmont, describing the opportunity as “the grand culmination of all the time and hard work invested at Belmont finally starting to come into fruition in the real world.” She further contributes her academic success to professors Dr. Nathan Griffith, Dr. Li, Dr. Cheryl Brown, Dr. Joseph Byrne and Dr. Jonathan Thorndike. She also says the Honors Program, her job as an Resident Assistant and her membership in Kappa Alpha Theta have been significant pillars in her preparation.
“This internship will open so many new doors for me in terms of how diplomatic development works, and I could not be more thrilled to start engaging with the material! And, naturally, I am beyond ecstatic to be living in the nation’s capital for the summer. I plan to take as many lunch breaks as possible outside the Lincoln Memorial, and visit Chinatown often!” said Hubner.
Long term, Hubner dreams to start a life for herself, either in D.C. or abroad, as a Foreign Service Officer for the Department of State. Because a large part of her internship will be research-oriented, Hubner said she hopes to apply her experiences to her work with Dr. Griffith as a teaching assistant for his Social Science Research Methods course. Hubner will also continue to conduct research for her senior thesis, a multi-case study of China, Singapore and Korea analyzing the efficacy of authoritarian regimes.
Hubner said her ambition and drive is fueled by her mantra of never giving up. “I still wake up and struggle to believe that this is really happening, especially when I think back to October when I used to obsess over how much of a long shot this was. But if had decided that it was too much of a reach then, I never would have gotten to where I am now. So if there is anything I hope someone takes away, it’s that if there is something you want to do, don’t waste another minute! Do your homework about what it takes to get there, and give it your best shot. Keep working hard and pushing yourself until you get where you want to be.”