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Trinity Washington University | Sydney Cross ’10: Pursue Your Passion

Sydney Cross ’10

Sydney Cross '10 will spend the next two years in Tanzania as a political officer with the US State Department.

Sydney Cross ’10 will spend the next two years in Tanzania as a political officer with the US State Department.

In early July 2013, Sydney Cross ‘10 traveled to Tanzania to begin her work as a political officer for the U.S. State Department. A member of the Foreign Service Office, Sydney will be working in the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, for the next two years on such issues as human rights violations, human trafficking and political refugees. Sydney says was thrilled at the chance to be assigned to Tanzania because living in Africa has always been her dream.

A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Sydney was on a Girl Scout Destinations trip to London between her junior and senior year in high school when she first heard about Trinity. “We were all talking about colleges and someone mentioned Trinity in DC and that it had special scholarships for Girl Scouts.” She was just beginning the process of researching where she wanted to attend college, but she knew she wanted to work in politics and travel. She discovered that Trinity would allow her to study international relations while pursing the unique opportunities available in Washington, DC.

Trinity is in a College Town

“DC has so much to offer, not just politics. There are companies, conferences, and internship opportunities here. I made friends at American University, Georgetown, and Catholic. DC is a college town,” she says. While at Trinity she excelled academically, played volleyball, was elected vice president of her freshman class, president of the Student Government Association, and president of the Trinity College Democrats Club. She interned with the Democratic National Committee in 2008 and attended the Democratic National Convention in Denver that same year.

In high school she completed the history curriculum and was able to enroll in classes at a local community college. Sydney entered Trinity with the goal of finishing in three years and credits all of her professors, and her advisor Dr. Susan Farnsworth, with keeping her on track. “The professors at Trinity taught us to think critically and push ourselves, and write! There were very few multiple choice tests at Trinity, they made us write.” Dr. Farnsworth helped Sydney plan her academic schedule: “She was so helpful during the process and we had many great conversations and debates. She really challenged me.” Sydney also credits the small classes with allowing her to know her professors and reach out to them whenever she needed help.

Sydney lived on campus all three years and loved it. Her favorite dorm was Main Hall during her last two years.

Next Step: Graduate School

Sydney says that she and all her friends knew the next step after leaving Trinity would be graduate school. Sydney interned at the State Department while a student and between her junior and senior year participated in the Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Summer Program at Howard University. “It was a summer enrichment program where you learn about careers in international affairs.” After graduation from Trinity, Sydney learned that she was one of 20 students nationwide to receive the Rangel International Affairs Graduate Fellowship, which selects talented college graduates to pursue careers in international affairs as diplomats with the State Department. The program provides a full scholarship for graduate studies.

In 2012, Sydney graduated from Howard University with her master’s degree. Upon graduation, the students must complete three years of service with the State Department. She spent the last year preparing to work overseas. As part of her preparation with the State Department she studied Swahili and learned to become a Foreign Service Officer: on-the-job training. She will be working with two classmates from Howard University in Tanzania and she says the group she studied with at Howard all plan to remain close, “One of the guys in the program is planning a meet-up of the group in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, sometime in the future.”

Already a world traveler, Sydney has been to 17 foreign countries, including Israel in 2010 with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. She also interned in Vietnam for three months. Despite her international experiences, she did have a few butterflies before she departed for Tanzania. “I cannot return home for a year,” she says. It will be the first time she will miss Christmas with her family.

The Trinity Difference

“Academically Trinity challenged me and provided assistance when I needed help.” Trinity’s financial aid office also helped make a Trinity education a reality for Sydney. “Trinity offers a great education at an affordable price,” she says. Sydney received several scholarships to attended Trinity and says the financial aid office was always looking for more opportunities for her. “They found a scholarship for St. Louis residents who are interested in studying public policy.”

Clearly someone with a sense of adventure, Sydney is excited about the next phase in her life. “You have to pursue your passion,” she says. “I always wanted to go to Africa. When I saw Tanzania on the list of choices from the State Department I jumped at the chance.” Sydney says Trinity supported her in every way to succeed.

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