Francesca Gill in front of world flags.

Pursuing a Path to Public Service

Francesca Gill, SIS/BA ’24, a junior at American University’s School of International Service, finds value in each word of her school’s name. She views public service as uniquely vocational.

“I'm a big proponent of the idea that public service is a calling—it’s something that calls you to selflessly act on the behalf of others,” Gill explains.

Community is a concept Gill considers on the local, national, and global levels. She cares deeply about making a difference through leadership within international affairs. Her current goal following graduation is to find work at the center of US foreign policy decision-making, possibly with the Civil Service at the US Department of State.

Gill’s passion for public service has been nurtured by her internship experiences. Interning with the United Nations Association of The National Capital Area (UNA-NCA), Gill was inspired by her colleagues’ efforts to foster a stronger US-UN partnership. She supported the chapter’s newsletters and programming, which gave her a new appreciation for the role of partnerships and community education.

“It was just really eye-opening and impressive to see how much dedication goes into advocacy and public outreach,” reflects Gill about her time at UNA-NCA.

Now a full-time intern with the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, Gill is spending the Spring 2023 semester in her ideal classroom. By working on issues related to such a nuanced geographic region, she feels energized by the culture of hard work and attention to detail.

“It’s just really inspiring,” says Gill, framing her internship experience as helping her plan for the future. “I think looking forward to where I can find my place—within that puzzle of where I can put my best effort, knowledge, and experiences—is something that I keep trying to really reflect and act on every day.”

Gill credits scholarship support for motivating her to embrace every opportunity that comes her way. A recipient of the Women's Scholarship Fund in Honor of Mary Louise Brown, Gill can take full advantage of the experience at the State Department while staying on track to complete her degree.

Maintaining such “positive momentum” toward graduation and career steps, she explains, is invaluable—an idea central to AU’s new Elevate Scholarship Initiative.

“Because I've been allotted such a very generous donor scholarship fund, it really just pushes me and encourages me to pursue my career passions in the government sector,” Gill says. “[It’s] just only going to help me reach those dreams of wanting to be somebody really important in foreign policy, and to make a difference that will truly have a sustainable impact, not just in DC, but throughout the United States.”

Gill’s determination to create change has helped her find a home at AU. In particular, the School of Public Affairs’ Leadership Program has enabled Gill to grow both alongside her cohort and individually. During her sophomore year, Gill helped teach girls in DC public schools about economic empowerment through a partnership with local nonprofit, Community Bridges. Her goal was to promote the kinds of early exposure opportunities she wished she had access to growing up.

[This] interest stemmed from my own experiences of just wanting to be that role model for myself—you know, if I was looking at my younger self and wanting to see my future self—this is who I would want to see.”

For Gill, these experiential learning opportunities reflect AU’s commitment to students thriving. She recognizes the university mission and Change Can’t Wait campaign in action across the AU community, particularly through student services such as the SIS Advising Center and Financial Aid Office.

In preparing Gill to follow her path to public service, AU answers the call to ensure that students are empowered to live lives of purpose, service, and leadership.

“I’ve been able to get to this point because of the resources and the funding opportunities that the university provides for its students,” Gill reflects. “And I think that it is just such a true testament to the university and to what students can truly achieve and reach.”

Part of AU’s Change Can’t Wait campaign, the Elevate Scholarship Initiative is a philanthropic effort to raise $25 million of unrestricted funding to support undergraduate students enrolled at AU. To learn more and share your support, visit the Elevate Scholarship Initiative web page.