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Ambassador Katherine Tai visits Johnson C. Smith University for a roundtable discussion with students

Round table discussion with students and the Ambassador

Ambassador Katherine Tai, the 19th U.S. Trade Representative, provided students with a unique learning opportunity when she answered their questions and educated them on U.S. trade policies during her campus visit. 

President Clarence D. Armbrister welcomed the ambassador to JCSU and touched on Charlotte’s roots in trade from the city’s founding at the crossing of two Native American trading paths to today with corporate skyscrapers at that same intersection in uptown.

"As the nation’s second largest financial hub and the headquarters of Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 companies, trade is important to Charlotte because of the impact it has on the economic vitality of the region,” said Armbrister. “We are very fortunate to have the nation’s top trade official share her knowledge and insight with our students because many of them are planning for careers in the region’s companies that have an international scope.”

Students asking Ambassador Tai questions.

The ambassador said she usually meets with workers, union representatives and business leaders about trade agenda, so speaking with students, particularly students at an HBCU, was a welcome change of pace.

“One of my priorities as U.S. Trade Representative is to ensure our trade policy delivers shared prosperity to all of our communities,” she explained.“Historically, the benefits of trade have not reached everyone, especially women and people of color. We view this as an opportunity to realign our trade and investment agenda so everyone can benefit.”

Students asked the ambassador questions about her role in government and, more generally, about U.S. trade policy. Tai told students she was excited to engage with them because trade policy is really about the future, and they are the nation’s future.

Wide shot of the round table panel.

“Learning is what you’re doing with your time here in college,” she said. “I love learning, and I’m here to learn from you.”

The roundtable of students was pleased to have the ambassador visit JCSU and speak directly with them. Justin Nixon ’25 said he was glad the ambassador made it a point to visit Charlotte’s HBCU while she was doing business in the region. 

"Ambassador Tai’s visit to JCSU is important because it shows that people in positions of authority and influence recognize the need to interact with students at historically Black colleges and universities,” said Nixon. “JCSU and other HBCUs educate students who are as intellectually curious, knowledgeable, talented and ambitious as students at other universities. We need equitable resources and access to more opportunities such as this.”

Ambassador Tai posing with students

Ambassador Tai closed by expressing her admiration of how students are navigating the pandemic and the day-to-day hardships it has caused.

“I’m excited that you are the future of our country, and I hope a few of you will find your way to careers in trade policy,” she said.

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