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UWC-USA alumna on her career in public service

From the archives: IB World magazine regularly highlights graduates of the IB Diploma Programme. Monique Dorsainvil received her IB diplom from UWC-USA and was featured in March 2016.

Monique Dorsainvil didn’t have a job,  a home, or even know anyone when she moved to Washington D.C. Six years later, she is walking the West Wing. Starting as an intern in Michelle Obama’s office, Dorsainvil went on to join the Office of Public Engagement, where she focused on the Council on Women and Girls, and OutReach, which promotes equality for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community.

IB graduate Monique Dorsainvil is now in public service at the White House

She is now the Deputy Chief of Staff for the Office of Public Engagement and the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. “I’m most inspired by our ability to ensure access and create opportunities for people,” she says.

Dorsainvil had her first taste of politics at UWC-USA, in New Mexico, US, where she completed the IB Diploma Programme (DP). “The DP helped lay the foundation for how I think about politics, identity, intersectionality and service. My belief in community mobilization and an individual’s ability to enact change transformed,” she says. “While at UWC, I had roommates from Burkina Faso, West Africa, and The Netherlands. I learned about life and political systems alongside students and faculty from every corner of the world.”

Powerful role models

All her life, Dorsainvil has been surrounded by strong, fearless women who have broken through glass ceilings to contribute to America’s progress. As well as Michelle Obama, she admires her boss Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President. “Like so many leaders today, she  recognizes the strides that have been made while also acknowledging the collective work there is to do ahead,” says Dorsainvil.

At Emory University, in Atlanta, Georgia, US, Dorsainvil was encouraged to chase opportunities, connect with faculty, and immerse herself in the greater Atlanta community. This led her to pursue a degree in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Global Health.

“What attracted me to these disciplines was the ability to take a deep look at the intersections of race, class, gender and sexuality and examine how they affect large-scale systems in society,” she says.

Attending a bilingual school taught Dorsainvil how to navigate complex issues while taking into account multiple points of view, and this is what she liked most about the DP.

“I enjoyed the international curriculum and diverse viewpoints presented across subject matter,” she explains. “The DP helped me develop strong critical thinking skills and subsequently generate my own creative solutions. Theory of Knowledge (TOK) and Creativity, Action, Service (CAS) helped me foster a connection between classroom learning and my community.”

Memorable moments

The White House can be an exciting place. “Working behind the scenes on historical milestones like the launch of the President’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative and the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington has been especially significant to me,” says Dorsainvil. But there’s lots left to achieve. Dorsainvil wants to continue working towards social equality over the next 10 years: “Serving this President has taught me that it is far more important to focus on the impact you hope to make, rather than what job you want to obtain,” she says. “In 10 years, I will be continuing the legacy that this administration is soon to leave behind.”

This story originally appeared in the March 2016 issue of IB World magazine. Are you an IB graduate? Join the IB Alumni Network by visiting