Mary Jo Pham, SABIS® International Charter School, Class of 2007
In 2003, Mary Jo Pham was an eager ninth grader at the SABIS® International Charter School (SICS) in Springfield, Massachusetts, U.S. Today, she is a well-traveled, successful diplomat who draws daily on the foundation of knowledge and skills she started building as a student at SICS.
From the time she enrolled at SICS, Mary Jo seized every opportunity that came her way. She dedicated herself to her schoolwork and started contributing to her school community through the SABIS Student Life Organization® (SLO®). She was involved in numerous clubs and activities at school and was Head Prefect in her senior year. “I’ll never forget the SLO® motto: We are all in this together,” commented Mary Jo. “We genuinely are, and in my professional and personal journey since graduation, I’ve learned that everyone stands to benefit when we help others around us. When we empower others around us, everyone wins.”
As a student at SICS, Mary Jo was also active in U.S. Model Congress, an activity that gives high school students the chance to engage in a role-playing simulation of the United States Congress. She distinguished herself in Model Congress and was one of only a handful of students in America selected to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives Page Program in Washington, D.C. in the summer of her junior year at SICS.
Mary Jo graduated from SICS in 2007. She attended Tufts University in Massachusetts, where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in International Relations with a minor in Chinese. As an undergraduate, she was awarded the Thomas R. Pickering Undergraduate Foreign Affairs Fellowship in 2010, allowing her to pursue her studies at the American University in Washington D.C., where she obtained a master’s degree in International Communication with a specialization in public diplomacy.
Upon graduating with her master’s degree in 2013, Mary Jo joined the U.S. Department of State to serve her country as a diplomat overseas. After studying Arabic for a year at the Foreign Service Institute, she moved to Saudi Arabia to work at the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh as an economic officer specializing in trade, critical infrastructure, and intellectual property rights. She now works in Washington, D.C. at the Department of State, where she manages U.S. foreign assistance to countries in East Asia and the Pacific.
Reflecting on her time at SICS, Mary Jo comments: “From the beginning, I loved that my high school had the word ‘international’ in it. SABIS® International Charter School shaped my life by providing me with an education that lived up to its name and a community that nurtured my aspirations. As a result, I’ve been able to pursue all things international in college and beyond – foreign languages, foreign policy, and foreign cultures.”
Mary Jo’s choice to embark on an international career that would take her around the world and allow her to contribute positively to the world she lives in is, in many ways, an extension of the values that she acquired and developed at SABIS® International Charter School. In all SABIS® Network schools, students are helped to reach their full potential and encouraged to make a difference in the world. We wish SABIS® alumna Mary Jo continued success on her incredible journey!
For more information about the SABIS® International Charter School (SICS) in Springfield, Massachusetts, U.S, visit sics.sabis.net. If you would like to connect with former classmates, hear about stories such as Mary Jo's, and keep up-to-date with news on your alma mater, join the SABIS® Alumni Global Association (SAGA) by visiting saga.sabis.net.