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Christina Boiler
Stephanie Gross
Christina Boiler

One of The Few to Pass Foreign Service Exams on the First Try, May Graduate Awaits Call That Will Take Her Overseas

May 9, 2000 -- When University of Virginia student Christina Boiler took the foreign service exam in November, she never expected to pass. After all, the national pass rate is low, and she was taking the test with ex-Peace Corps volunteers, lawyers, business professionals and people with master's and Ph.D. degrees.

But at age 22, Boiler defied the odds by passing both the written and oral parts of the exam. If she passes the security clearance, she will be eligible for a much-coveted foreign service officer job. Within two years of graduating from U.Va. on May 21, depending on job availability, Boiler could be overseas representing the United States and its foreign policies.

She is excited about such a possibility. "I would like to learn another language and culture while furthering U.S. interests abroad. What better way to do that than to work for the U.S. in an international setting?" she said.

A native of Spotsylvania County, Boiler graduated in 1996 from Courtland High School. Beginning this summer, she will work in a Northern Virginia consulting firm. She plans eventually to get a master's degree in business and international relations to combine her interests.

At U.Va., Boiler majored in foreign affairs with a concentration in Southeast Asia and minored in Spanish. She feels her classes prepared her for the foreign service exam.

To be eligible to take the exam, a person has to be a U.S. citizen between the ages of 20 and 59. The first exam is written, consisting of English usage, general knowledge and personality-related questions.

Of the approximately 10,000 people who took this portion in November, the foreign service only offered the oral exam to 3,000 people. The oral exam is devised to see how potential officers would react in real-life, diplomatic situations. Test-takers engage in role-playing and writing activities to assess their communication skills.

Less than half of the applicants pass the written and oral components of the foreign service exam on the first try, said an official with the department's board of examiners.

"The tests were hard, but fair," Boiler said. "They test you for your ability, not your education, experience, friends or family."

For the next two years while Boiler works in Northern Virginia, she will wait for the call that could send her across the world to represent the United States.

For more information, contact Christina Boiler at (804) 244-4019 or

Contact: Jill Johnson, (804) 924-7116

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: please contact the Office of University Relations at (804) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (804) 924-7550.
SOURCE: U.Va. News Services


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