Student Star: Kaitlin Bell

Florida State University Boren Award winner promotes education in Tallahassee and fights for human rights worldwide

Name: Kaitlin Bell
Major: International Affairs
Graduation: Spring 2025
Hometown: Houston, Texas
College: College of Social Sciences & Public Policy

“The magic of Florida State is its people and the culture of truly caring for every student”

Fast Facts

  1. Traveler: Been to 12 different countries
  2. Makes an impact: Engage 100 leader for two years
  3. International inspiration: Met the Peruvian Ambassador to the U.S. during an internship at the Department of State in Washington, D.C.
  4. Favorite class: Irish history in the U.K.
  5. Hobbies: Enjoys baking, reading and painting

When deciding where to go to college, none of the schools visited by Kaitlin Bell felt quite right until she set foot on Florida State University’s campus.

Her academic dedication is evident through her consistent inclusion on the Dean’s List across multiple semesters, despite the challenges of juggling two jobs alongside full-time studies.

Bell was proud to complete an internship at the United States Department of State in Washington, D.C., where she played a key role in advancing human rights resolutions at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Additionally, she found fulfillment in community service through tutoring at the Leon County Public Library’s English as a Second Language program, where she helped students from diverse backgrounds improve their language skills and achieve their educational goals.

Now, Bell is off to Azerbaijan to study Turkish as a recipient of the prestigious Boren Award. Bell was also selected to participate in the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Program after earning the Boren Award. After graduation, she hopes to join the Department of State’s Civil or Foreign Service.

As a student from Texas, what brought you to Florida State?

I knew throughout my high school career that I wanted to leave my hometown and go to school out of state. I narrowed down an entire country’s worth of schools by purely logistical factors in a spreadsheet and I compared them based on proximity to family, cost and AP credit acceptance; anticipating I would select my home for the next four years based on rational deduction alone. That summer, I toured schools all along the East Coast, from Syracuse, New York, to Tampa. While logically they checked all the boxes, none felt quite right.

Then I stepped onto Florida State’s campus. As the tour ended and I admired the Ruby Diamond Concert Hall, former President Thrasher made his way around the group, shaking everyone’s hand and welcoming us to the university. At that moment, I realized that there was something special about Florida State that couldn’t be summed up in a spreadsheet or pro-con chart. The magic of Florida State is its people and the culture of truly caring for every student. I realized at that moment that my college experience was going to be defined by the strong sense of community and belonging that thrives at Florida State.

What have been some of your proudest academic accomplishments?

I have loved learning from a very young age, and my passion for academics is most clearly demonstrated in my inclusion on the Dean’s List for the 2020 Fall, 2021 Spring, 2021 Summer, 2021 Fall and 2023 Fall semesters. This not only demonstrates scholastic dedication over time but should also be recognized in the context of my employment working two jobs while being a full-time student.

How do you work to advance human rights through your position with the U.S. Department of State?

One of the things I am proudest of during my time at FSU was my tenure as an intern at the United States Department of State. I worked in the Human Rights and Humanitarian Assistance Office, which was primarily focused on passing human rights resolutions through the United Nations Human Rights Council. I spearheaded the Troika team response to the resolution for the “Commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 30th Anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action,” which was passed by joint consensus at the Human Rights Council’s 52nd session. I learned so much about professional leadership through this experience and how imperative cross-departmental communication and collaboration are to the success of a project.  

This experience not only allowed me to be a leader in my workplace but also supported America’s initiatives to lead the world toward a future where human rights are protected everywhere. The result of United Nations resolutions will be microscopic alterations, but the lasting impact will be recognized on a macro level across the globe. I felt incredibly proud of my contribution to the small step toward improving human rights and the quality of life for people. Thanks to this incredible opportunity, I am now on a path to pursuing a full-time role at the Department of State, so I can continue leading American foreign policy abroad. 

What was your most rewarding community service experience?

I found an opportunity as a tutor for Leon County Public Library’s English as a Second Language program. Week after week I would work with members of the community to strengthen their language skills, helping students pass the GED, improving their language and vocabulary skills and practicing conversational dialogue. My favorite part of the entire experience was learning about different people’s cultures and perspectives, as our students hailed from Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. I found volunteering to be incredibly rewarding, seeing students’ progress and celebrating every triumph as students became ever more confident.