DONNA HRINAK: AMBASSADOR TO BOLIVIA


Ever since she was 12, growing up in Manaca, PA, she wanted to be ambassador. And a degree from Michigan State along the way certainly helped her cause. Today, Donna Hrinak, '72, is U.S. Ambassador to Bolivia--the first female career foreign service officer to hold the post. "There's no typical day in his job, and that's why I like it so much," says Hrinak, enroute to Montevideo, Uruguay, for a hemispheric conference on women. Before her appointment in November 1997, Donna served as ambassador to the Dominican Republic for three years. After joining the foreign service in 1974, Donna was assigned tours to Poland, Mexico, Venezuela and Brazil, where she did consular and political work. Eventually Donna rose to become U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Mexico and the Caribbean. While in Mexico, she met and married Luis Flores. She won a Congressional Fellowship and spent a year on Capitol Hill, working with then Sen. Pat Schroeder of Colorado, "involved mainly with Congress' role in foreign policy." In 1985, Glamour magazine named her as one of America's Ten Outstanding Young Working Women. Donna credits her success to her years at Michigan State, which she attended during "an era of intellectual ferment," as she puts it. "I grew up in a tiny town, so coming to this huge campus was an eye-opener," she recalls. "I was in (then) Justin Morrill College and surrounded by this radical, hippie-freak environment. I remember sitting and talking forever in the (Snyder-Phillips) cafeteria. I remember the gender-changing of the dorm. And I remember watching football games in pouring rain." She also remembers the beauty of the campus. She was reminded of it two years ago, when she brought her son Wyatt, now 13, to the campus. Recalls Donna, "My son said, 'Mom, this is really beautiful. I want to go to school here.'"

photo caption: Ambassador Hrinak (left) and Bolivian President Hugo Banzer recently attended the inauguration of a bridge in Rurrenabaque, Bolivia. They are holding arrows used by an indigenous tribe.