UNM Diplomat in Residence, Antoinette Hurtado

September 28, 2022 - Dorene DiNaro

Hurtado bio picAntoinette Hurtado currently serves as the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomat in Residence (DIR) covering the Southwest region of New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada. She chose this profession after spending her entire career mentoring and coaching students and young professionals to pursue and realize their dreams.  She says that her current position gives her a bigger-scale opportunity to highlight new opportunities for students and share her own experiences about working for the State Department.

Hurtado started as DIR for the Southwest region in January of this year, and although she is affiliated with the UNM Career Services Department, she covers all of New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada. Her role is to provide guidance and advice on careers, internships, and fellowships to students and professionals and serve as a resource for anyone interested in a career with the United States Department of State.

“I’m really looking forward to connecting with students and hopefully inspiring them to look at international careers and public service, and of course, in particular, the State Department,” she says. 
“I hope I can broaden student’s views on what paths are possible and the many different opportunities out there.”

Hurtado says she didn't’t know much about the State Department until a recruiter came to her college campus to talk about it.  After hearing him speak, she applied and was chosen for one of the Department’s student fellowship programs – the Pickering  Fellowship. “It changed the trajectory of my life,” she says.  “They paid for my master’s degree and I joined the Department as a diplomat upon graduation.”

She hopes giving students the ability to see someone in this position first-hand will give them a better insight into not only the role, but also the benefits. The most impactful benefits for Hurtado were financial including free housing overseas, a student loan repayment program, a pension, a 401k equivalent, children’s education assistance and money in addition to a regular salary for serving in difficult countries or expensive cities.

 “The free housing overseas has been the most impactful for me,” she says. “That’s typically our biggest expense every month (rent/mortgage) so imagine spending years and years overseas when you don’t have to pay that—you can save so much money and pay down debt and really be in a very stable financial situation.”
Hurtado says however, it’s not all about the money. The opportunity to see the world and share new experiences is a big deal as well.  “I have had the adventure of a lifetime in this career that has spanned four continents,” she says. “I have loved different places for different reasons.”

 On the personal side, she loved her assignment in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil because it fit with her Southern California girl, flip-flop-wearing, ocean vibe, and she was able to appreciate the diverse and rich culture.  On the professional side she enjoyed her time at the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See. “I was the head of the public affairs section there and Pope Francis had just been elected,” she says.

In addition to being able to meet the Pope and be part of his first visit to the United States, Hurtado worked on a number of important global issues with the Vatican.  “We worked on promoting human rights and care for the environment and combatting trafficking in persons,” she says. 
Hurtado says she is happy to be affiliated with UNM and is looking forward to being able to meet students face-to-face this semester.  In fact, she just concluded a one week visit to campus this month to attend some career fairs and host brown bags, information sessions, and office hours with UNM students. “The students and faculty and staff that I met through my virtual engagements in the spring and summer have all been so welcoming and I’m really excited to be working in this region,” she says. “I am loving the Southwest community.”

She is hoping her time here will give her the opportunity to show students that a job doesn't’t have to just be a job.  “I always wanted my job to be an extension of my values and my contribution to the world and this career has given me an incredible sense of fulfillment and accomplishment in that regard,” she says.  “I wish that same feeling for UNM students.”  For information on State Department opportunities email Antoinette HurtadoDIRSouthwest@state.gov or visit the Pickering Fellowship website or the United States Department of State Careers website.

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