KU alumna, working with Organization of American States, hopes to continue career in foreign service

Back in town briefly from an internship with the Organization of American States, a Kansas University alumna said the experience has helped shaped her career path.

Daphne Hiatt, of Kansas City, Mo., graduated with degrees in Spanish and Latin American studies from KU in spring 2010.

She’s one of six American citizens who secured internships at the OAS, which is a group of 33 independent states of the Americas. In all there are 70 interns from across the various countries represented.

Similar to the United Nations, the group seeks to promote democracy and cooperation throughout the hemisphere.

The experience has been great so far, she said. Hiatt said she hopes to continue in a career in foreign service, perhaps eventually ending up in the U.S. State Department.

“We’re more connected than we think,” she said. “Issues could be affecting you that you wouldn’t ever know.”

Issues such as a border dispute between Nicaragua and Costa Rica fueled by a Google Maps error have arisen during her time there, she said. And she hopes that in the future she’ll become more involved in international development programs and opportunities. As an intern, she’s also been involved in a new Model OAS program, similar to an existing Model UN program for young people to become exposed to the organization.

At KU, a new course will become available for undergraduates interested in participating, said Anita Herzfeld, director of undergraduate studies for the KU Center of Latin American studies.

Offered next spring, the seminar in the MOAS is open to undergraduate and graduate students, with a goal of getting students to fly to Washington in March and April 2011 to participate in the MOAS simulation there.

Though her parents initially scoffed at the “liberal arts majors” that Hiatt chose to pursue, she said she hoped her experiences showed that they have value, too.

Business majors may have a higher earning potential, but she said that’s not all of what she hoped to get out of her university experience.

“Why would I not study something I love?” she said. “For me, that was Latin American studies and Spanish.