As one of 15 White House Fellows, she's spent a year rubbing shoulders with the political elite.
By Emily Gold Boutilier
[Government] Every year, a select group of young men and women head to Washington, D.C., to work in the highest levels of federal government. These White House Fellows serve in full-time, paid positions throughout the executive branch, from the Treasury Department to the National Security Coun- cil to the Office of the First Lady. This year, Megan Carroll ’02 is one of these young people.
President Lyndon Johnson founded the nonparti- san fellowship in 1964 to provide “first hand, high- level experience with the workings of the Federal government.”
Carroll is one of 15 fellows for 2014–15. Her assign- ment: the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, housed in the State Department. The position builds upon her previous work with the U.N. in South Sudan.
The fellows attend lunches and seminars with experts. Carroll has met cabinet secretaries, senior White House officials, Supreme Court justices and members of Congress, as well as President Obama and the First Lady. The fellows also travel together. “A highlight,” Carroll says, “was landing on the USS The- odore Roosevelt aircraft carrier while at sea to spend two days learning about the U.S. Navy.”
All this, Carroll says, “has given me a much greater appreciation of the complexity and challenges of is- sues and decisions facing our policymakers, as well as a deeper understanding of the strategic importance of the U.S. Mission to the U.N. and the institutions that shape and drive domestic and U.S. foreign policy.”
Carroll’s work assignment: the U.S. Mission to the United Nations
Carroll came to Washington from South Sudan, where she led the U.N. Development Programme’s Democracy and Participation portfolio for that country. Earlier, she was acting director and deputy director of The Carter Center’s Democracy Program in South Sudan and Sudan. She was an international observer in the 2011 referendum that resulted in South Sudan’s independence from Sudan. “It was a unique privilege to witness the birth of a new nation,” she says, but “heartbreaking to see the young nation descend into violence.”
It was nighttime in Juba, South Sudan, when Car- roll got the phone call saying she’d been named a fel- low. “Due to the security situation and curfew, I was at ‘home’ in my tiny tukul on the UNDP compound,” she says. She was happy and grateful, but also sad to leave “a place I had come to know as home.”
After the fellowship ends later this summer, Carroll plans to continue to work in public policy, either with the federal government, for a foundation or with the United Nations.
South Sudan, A Primer
Here are some little- known facts that Carroll says people should know about South Sudan:
It is not only the world’s newest nation but also one of the youngest, ”with an estimated 70 percent of the population under the age of 30.”
“It has the potential to be the breadbasket of the re- gion and has incredible wildlife.” It is home to the Sudd, one of the world’s largest wetlands, and the white-eared kob, an antelope species.
The people are among the most resilient she has met.