Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL


January 3, 2013

A Stately Career

EFFINGHAM — Years before Vincent Pickett would even imagine he’d have a career with the U.S. Department of State, his parents exposed him to diverse cultures. “My mom (Marlene) is a French teacher, so we traveled to France and a couple of French-speaking countries in the Caribbean,” Pickett said. “I always thought it would be interesting to work with people from other cultures.” As it turns out, that’s exactly the type of career Pickett now has. The 1997 St. Anthony High School graduate is a special projects officer with the department’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs. In that capacity, he helps distribute Fulbright Fellowships, particularly those in public policy. “We oversee the whole process,” Pickett said. “We help set up the applications, as well as panels to decide who gets the fellowships.” Although Pickett is based in Washington, he works with people from more than 100 countries in what has become one of the world’s most venerable cultural exchange programs. What he has found is that human beings, no matter what culture they embrace, have remarkably similar goals. “Everybody in the world cares about the same kind of stuff,” he said. “They want to see their kids do better than they do and, by and large, they want to be good to other people.” Pickett said extended exposure to overseas cultures offers a surprising benefit to the visitor. “When you are outside your home country, you learn something about your home country,” he said. Pickett grew up as the older son of Steve, a junior high English teacher, and Marlene, a high school French teacher. After graduating from St. Anthony High School in 1997, he moved on to DePaul University on the north side of Chicago, where he majored in international studies with minors in French and marketing, graduating in 2001. After teaching English in Venezuela for a half year, he received a master’s degree in international relations from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University in upstate New York. From there, he went on to an internship at the U.S. Embassy in Paris. His first full-time government gig was as a special assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Education. He joined State in the summer of 2008. Pickett, who is a civil service employee of the State Department, said he likes how his life is going. “I like what I do now,” he said. “I probably won’t do it forever, but I like the idea of being a public servant.” Pickett said he would like to vary his career experiences by participating in a relatively new State Department program in which stateside employees can work overseas for a year. “It’s good for people like me to venture out from the Washington cocoon from time to time,” he said. Pickett said his program will survive no matter the fiscal obstacles — or who the president is. “The Fulbright program has been around 60 years,” he said. “It’s not going anywhere. It’s not seen as political. “Funding doesn’t increase every year,” Pickett said. “Travel has been cut, but the core mission of getting participants back and forth isn’t going to change.” Even though government service can be demanding, Pickett still has time for a family life. He and wife, Laura Logerfo, who works at the U.S. Department of Education, are parents of 2-year-old Kat and expect a second child in March. The family lives in the Virginia suburbs of Washington.

Text Only
  • treadmill-very-fast.jpg Tax deduction for a gym membership?

    April marks another tax season when millions of Americans will deduct expenses related to home ownership, children and education from their annual tax bill. These deductions exist because of their perceived value to society; they encourage behaviors that keep the wheels of the economy turning. So why shouldn't the tax code be revised to reward preventive health?

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • To sleep well, you may need to adjust what you eat and when

    Sleep.  Oh, to sleep.  A good night's sleep is often a struggle for more than half of American adults.  And for occasional insomnia, there are good reasons to avoid using medications, whether over-the-counter or prescription.

    April 16, 2014

  • Why Facebook is getting into the banking game

    Who would want to use Facebook as a bank? That's the question that immediately arises from news that the social network intends to get into the electronic money business.

    April 14, 2014

  • DayCareCosts.jpg Day care's cost can exceed college tuition in some states

    Most parents will deal with an even larger kid-related expense long before college, and it's a cost that very few of them are as prepared for: day care.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Boston doctors can now prescribe you a bike

    The City of Boston this week is rolling out a new program that's whimsically known as "Prescribe-a-Bike." Part medicine, part welfare, the initiative allows doctors at Boston Medical Center to write "prescriptions" for low-income patients to get yearlong memberships to Hubway, the city's bike-share system, for only $5.

    April 10, 2014

  • 10 tips for surviving a severe allergy season

    My colleague Brady Dennis reported recently that the arrival of warmer weather will soon unleash a pollen tsunami in parts of the country where the winter has been especially long and cold. Here are some survival tips from Clifford W. Bassett, an allergy specialist and assistant clinical professor of medicine at the New York University School of Medicine.

    April 9, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 2.16.35 PM.png Are Americans smart to stop drinking diet sodas?

    Recent data from Beverage Digest suggest many are cutting back on diet sodas. Consumption of diet sodas fell more than that of sugary sodas in 2013. This raises two questions: Why is total consumption declining, and is drinking diet soda harmful to health?

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • To get quality care, it helps to be the right kind of patient

    I am a family physician. Sometimes I must step out of the comfort of my clinical role and into that of patient or family caregiver. Generally, these trips to the other side of the exam table inspire a fair amount of anxiety.

    April 9, 2014

  • news_twitter.jpg Travelers fly on Air Twitter

    The enlightened age of social media has dawned over the airline industry, casting shadows over telephone call centers and on-site agents. Facebook and Twitter are racking up the friends and followers while the hold music plays on.

    April 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fast, cheap test can help save lives of many babies

    As Easley did more research into her daughter's death, she learned that a pilot program had started just months earlier at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Md. (Easley had delivered at a different hospital in the Washington area.) The program's goal was to screen every newborn with a simple pulse oximeter test that can help detect heart problems such as Veronica's, allowing doctors to respond.

    April 8, 2014

AP Video

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.