Recent photo of Marissa Scott, U.S Diplomat – Director, Africa Regional Media Hub
French Language Spokesperson /
porte-parole de langue française
U.S. Department of State
For our Luard Morse alumni highlight portraits, we interviewed Marissa Scott, who was granted the Luard Morse scholarship to King's College in London in 1997-98. She grew up in a small town in Louisiana. When she went to London, she was fascinated by the city and began to think about a career in international affairs. After getting her bachelor's from Dillard and her master's from Syracuse University, Marissa has been a U.S. Diplomat for the past 17 years, where she has served in Djibouti, the Dominican Republic, Algeria, Niger, Cabo Verde, and now South Africa.
The Luard Morse program was the perfect opportunity for Marissa to see what her high school AP English teacher always called "the world out there." Marissa traveled and explored beyond the borders of the UK during school breaks and realized that she would "even venture to say, 'there are worlds, plural, out there.'" Within her 10 days of spring break, Marissa visited eight countries in Western Europe and "reinforced my newly found goal of wanting to do something in the international arena." She remembers getting lost in Italy and finding her way back to her tour group by herself, without knowing Italian, using a mix of Spanish and English to communicate.
Marissa has stayed in touch with friends from London and has revisited several times – once while the Hamilton theater was being built! She advises scholars of the future to enjoy the culture of where they travel and to keep a travel journal. She says: "Create your own experience. Make sure that you are open and vulnerable to what international experiences can offer you … if that experience is studying in a non-English speaking country, focus on a language that really shows commitment to wanting to learn another culture … in the form of reading books about what goes on in other countries, and dare I say other worlds, worlds that are different than your own."
Marissa hopes to be a US Ambassador and represent the US in a top diplomat position. Her current work as a US Diplomat in South Africa is incredibly inspiring. She says, "the American Dream is nothing more than a story that people want for themselves … I love the fact that I get a chance to represent my country in a capacity that allows me to speak with authority … I love being a person of color, being able to represent that. It sometimes puts an extra burden, but a burden in a good way, a weight that I don't mind carrying, because when I'm out and abroad, and people don't think that I'm a diplomat, and then they're either shocked, amazed, or surprised that I am. I feel good about that. Because I just changed their perspective of what an American is and what America is. So I live for those experiences. But it also means that we have a lot of training to do, even abroad, with everything that's gone on in the United States right now. After the murder of Mr. Floyd and the protests, the level of people being frustrated, upset, and wanting to do something all over the world based on what happened in the US, it has really prompted institutions, organizations and individuals to reassess what they're doing. The level of diversity and inclusion in the State Department is no different … I am excited about the changes that are going to take place in my workplace and within the US government … when I say we still have work to do, we do. To make sure that the US Foreign Service, our diplomats and the envoys that go out in the world are a reflection of the United States. And that's a smorgasbord. It's a rainbow. It's anything that you want it to be, but it is absolutely beyond black and white. And my goal is that people see that and understand that one of the best virtues and values that we have to offer as a country is by far our diversity."
Thank you Marissa Scott for sharing your experiences from the Luard Morse scholarship program and your uplifting stories and determination.