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Matters of State

Friday, August 1, 2014

Dilpreet Sidhu outside her 'second office'

An advance team member for the U.S. Secretary of State, young alumna is living her dream, while relying upon skills learned as a Trinity student

by Donna Parker

Dilpreet Sidhu '09

Talk about a road warrior! Dilpreet Sidhu hits the road two to three weeks out of each month.

As special Assistant to the Office of the Secretary of State, Dilpreet provides logistical support for Secretary John Kerry as he travels the world meeting with foreign heads of state. She works with hotels and embassies setting up, in effect, a mobile State Department office. "Anything he does in D.C., he should be able to do on the road," explains Dilpreet.

When traveling with the Secretary, she coordinates his schedule, prepares his daily briefing book, and serves as "quality control" for documents that go to the Secretary, editing and ensuring everything he sees is relevant and time sensitive. She usually travels with Secretary Kerry's senior staff and two colleagues from her office, as well as the national press.

Despite the hectic pace and awesome responsibilities, it's clear Dilpreet loves the job. "It is pretty overwhelming but also very exciting!" she says. "It requires a lot of self-confidence while also being able to relate to people respectfully and cooperatively." She also loves visiting new places. Her favorite so far: Amman, Jordan. "I went to the Dead Sea for the first time, as well as the ancient city of Petra."

While still a student, Dilpreet knew that she would pursue a career in public service. She graduated early and returned to her home state of Virginia, where she secured an internship in the State Department before working full-time as a foreign affairs officer.

Her majors–English and religion with a minor in economics–provided just the right background for her specialized position.

"I love reading and writing, and as an English major, I learned from the best. Colleen Grissom taught me how to write concisely and communicate effectively. I can't praise her enough; she is the one who taught me how to be direct and persuasive."

Dilpreet spends her precious free time in her recently purchased Northwest Washington 100-year-old condo listed on the D.C. Historical Register. Because she's "not a subway person," she walks everywhere, including the two-mile trek to work. Weekends she enjoys visiting the National Gallery of Art or just sitting in the nearby park to decompress after a lot of travel.

After a particularly brutal winter, she does miss the milder Texas weather and reminisces about being able to lounge outside on the Trinity campus at any time of the year. "My favorite thing was hanging around outside the library under a tree. People would come by and chat, then leave. It was also nice to be so close to Taco Taco and Main Street, where we sat for hours eating pizza and drinking sweet tea."

"At the end of the day, I feel so fortunate to be in a career that I love. Nothing lasts forever and everyone grows out of a job. I don't know what's next, but whatever it is, I look forward to the challenge and appreciate the foundation that Trinity provided me as a student."