By his junior year at UR, Mark Naylor, ’05, had an idea of what he wanted to do for a living but needed to know if he could do well living abroad first. Naylor decided to study in Ghana, a country he didn’t have much knowledge of beforehand.

“I wanted the most foreign experience I could get, something that would push me,” Naylor said. “And it did. I came back to Richmond knowing that this is what I want to do.”

What he wanted to do was become a foreign service officer in the U.S. Department of State. After graduating from Richmond and receiving a master’s degree from the University of Southern California, he passed the notoriously difficult exam process and got his first posting to Liberia, followed by stints in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Kosovo doing cultural and public affairs.

State Department employees like Naylor rotate positions every few years. His most recent posting brought him to the social media office of the Bureau of Global Public Affairs in Washington, D.C., crafting Twitter and Instagram posts and managing the accounts for the Secretary of State and department spokesperson.

Naylor is in the process of preparing for his next position as a public affairs officer in Estonia. Although frequently uprooting his life to move abroad can be tough for a foreign service officer, Naylor’s wife, Megan Johnson Naylor, ’04, also works at the State Department and will be traveling with him.

“I’ve been really lucky in my career so far,” Naylor said. “If you had asked me 10 years ago if I wanted to live in Liberia or Kosovo, I wouldn’t know what to say. But I’ve loved them all.”