EFFINGHAM — Years before Vincent Pickett would even imagine he’d have a career with the U.S. Department of State, his parents exposed him to diverse cultures. “My mom (Marlene) is a French teacher, so we traveled to France and a couple of French-speaking countries in the Caribbean,” Pickett said. “I always thought it would be interesting to work with people from other cultures.” As it turns out, that’s exactly the type of career Pickett now has. The 1997 St. Anthony High School graduate is a special projects officer with the department’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs. In that capacity, he helps distribute Fulbright Fellowships, particularly those in public policy. “We oversee the whole process,” Pickett said. “We help set up the applications, as well as panels to decide who gets the fellowships.” Although Pickett is based in Washington, he works with people from more than 100 countries in what has become one of the world’s most venerable cultural exchange programs. What he has found is that human beings, no matter what culture they embrace, have remarkably similar goals. “Everybody in the world cares about the same kind of stuff,” he said. “They want to see their kids do better than they do and, by and large, they want to be good to other people.” Pickett said extended exposure to overseas cultures offers a surprising benefit to the visitor. “When you are outside your home country, you learn something about your home country,” he said. Pickett grew up as the older son of Steve, a junior high English teacher, and Marlene, a high school French teacher. After graduating from St. Anthony High School in 1997, he moved on to DePaul University on the north side of Chicago, where he majored in international studies with minors in French and marketing, graduating in 2001. After teaching English in Venezuela for a half year, he received a master’s degree in international relations from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University in upstate New York. From there, he went on to an internship at the U.S. Embassy in Paris. His first full-time government gig was as a special assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Education. He joined State in the summer of 2008. Pickett, who is a civil service employee of the State Department, said he likes how his life is going. “I like what I do now,” he said. “I probably won’t do it forever, but I like the idea of being a public servant.” Pickett said he would like to vary his career experiences by participating in a relatively new State Department program in which stateside employees can work overseas for a year. “It’s good for people like me to venture out from the Washington cocoon from time to time,” he said. Pickett said his program will survive no matter the fiscal obstacles — or who the president is. “The Fulbright program has been around 60 years,” he said. “It’s not going anywhere. It’s not seen as political. “Funding doesn’t increase every year,” Pickett said. “Travel has been cut, but the core mission of getting participants back and forth isn’t going to change.” Even though government service can be demanding, Pickett still has time for a family life. He and wife, Laura Logerfo, who works at the U.S. Department of Education, are parents of 2-year-old Kat and expect a second child in March. The family lives in the Virginia suburbs of Washington.
Feces contaminates 58 percent of public swimming pools
Human feces taints more than half of public swimming pools, a finding U.S. health officials are using to urge better personal hygiene as the summer months approach.
VIDEO: Meet the family that never learned to walk on two legs
Their parents had accepted the children as they were; they'd never tried to teach them to walk. In this very proscribed world, walking on hands and feet made nearly as much sense as walking upright.
Ditch the flowers, go with these cool Mother's Day gifts
Instead of buying your mom a generic gift for Mother’s Day like flowers or a day at the spa, here are some cool gadgets that won’t only surprise her, but perhaps perfectly match one of her hobbies or current needs.
Lexus IS C is sporty, luxurious
Compared with a more traditional Lexus, like the ES, it's absolutely thrilling. It's a car with some life and personality in it.
Have political parties lost their purpose?
The Democrats and Republicans may be worlds apart on most things, but at their headquarters just two blocks away from each other on Capitol Hill, each is confronting the same question: Have political parties lost their purpose?
Organic baby food more costly, not necessarily more nutritious
Squeezable pouches of organic baby food are as omnipresent on some American playgrounds as runny noses, diaper bags and overpriced strollers. But studies show that parents who are aiming to buy the best food for their infants may not need to spring for the expensive organics.
- The top 10 most expensive places to get married XO Group Inc., the creator of the top two wedding websites, TheKnot.com and WeddingChannel.com, released the results of its annual Real Weddings Study. This comprehensive report surveyed more than 17,500 US brides married in 2012.
Roller Derby players share shoulder microbes
Researchers have found that players come into a tournament bearing a team signature of bacteria on their shoulders-but leave sharing microbes with their opponents.
Why do goats yell like that?
If you're among the millions who have spent a significant portion of the past month watching videos of goats yelling like humans, you may have wondered: Why do goats yell like that? Are they distressed? Do they yell for any particular reason? Are they trying to tell us something?
VIDEO: Who could be the next pope?
Pope Benedict XVI's resignation opens the door to an array of possible successors. There's no clear front-runner, though several leading candidates have been mentioned over the years as papabile, or having the qualities of a pope.
- More Features Headlines
- Feces contaminates 58 percent of public swimming pools