Seton Hall student Linda Manus is turning her interior design degree into a career in diplomacy here in the nation’s capital and she encourages others to do the same.
Manus just completed the Fall Capital Semester Program, an academic and internship program sponsored by The Fund for American Studies, her fourth program in a series of adventures that have taken her to Athens twice and to Washington.
“I always considered myself a diplomat and ambassador of culture and ideas,” noted this Peruvian-American diplomat-in-the-making who grew up with Greek neighbors, Indian neighbors, and surrounded by different languages and influences.
When Manus applied to Seton Hall for college they did not have a diplomacy/international relations program so she enrolled in the school’s the international business program through the Stillman Business School. After realizing that was not her interest she switched to her other passion in art and enrolled in the NY School of Interior Design.
At NYSI Manus applied herself to her courses and excelled earning an associate’s degree in interior design. She began studying abroad during semester breaks in Italy, England, and Russia.
After college she obtained a position as an assistant designer at a design company. For about a year she learned the hands-on knowledge to become a successful interior designer.
Manus admitted that she still felt unsatisfied; in the back of her mind was the new diplomacy school Seton Hall had established.
“It was an epiphany,” she recounted. “One day while standing in bathroom of an Indian diplomat overlooking the United Nations Peace Garden and UN Plaza I realized, ‘I don’t want to be a designer, I don’t want to be deigning this guy’s bathroom, I want to be a diplomat!’.”
Manus returned to Seton Hall to pursue her dream. In preparation, she even ran a New York City marathon to build confidence and prove to herself that she could do anything.
“Transitioning back to school is a challenge especially if you are older, but it’s never too late,” she said. She saw many people at NYSID changing careers from lawyers, housewives, to those coming out of the closet.
Enrolling in school allowed her to pursue opportunities that built on her deep appreciation for the Greek Culture. While on Facebook one day last year, she discovered The Fund for American Studies’ (TFAS) Greece program, International Institute on Political and Economic Systems (IIPES). It allowed her to study conflict management on the island of Crete while obtaining credit from Georgetown University. “After reading the wall posts and profiles of former IIPES students, I knew I wanted to be apart of this.”
Manus enjoyed IIPES so much she flew back to Greece the following month for another TFAS program on journalism. She subsequently attended three TFAS programs in DC, and is currently in Santiago, Chile at another program sponsored by TFAS for leadership in Latin America.
While interning in D.C. Manus had the pleasure of meeting former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Her past internships the Greek Embassy, the Southeast Europe Project for the Woodrow Wilson Center have included volunteering for the Mission of Cote D’ivoire at the United Nations last spring.
“Linda is not a traditional student,” said Lilly Pascucci, Manager of Capital Semester. “She is mature and a go-getter focused on the track that will take her where she wants to go. We’ve been glad to serve as a vehicle to help get her there.”
Manus like thousands of other students have benefited from scholarships provided by TFAS. Scholarships are ways for those thinking about internship and study abroad programs to help pay for such programs. “We do offer substantial awards of more than a $1,000,000 in scholarships annually,” noted Steve Slattery, Vice-President of US Programs at TFAS. “The average scholarship award during the summer is $2100 and $4500 during the semester.”
Even in difficult times funding opportunities are available, but students should plan early, be persistent and not be afraid to look into multiple means.
“Life is about turning what you want to do into what you’ve done!” said Manus as she reflected on her dramatic career shift. Her advice to students and adults in all stages of life is “No matter how outrageous your dream, go for it!”
About The Fund for American Studies
The Fund for American Studies is a Washington, D.C. educational nonprofit with internship and academic programs for college students administered in partnership with Georgetown University in Washington D.C., Czech Republic, Greece, and Hong Kong. Please visit www.TFAS.org to learn more.