Dillon Accepted to Kennedy School at Harvard
Kate Dillon has sauntered and swished down countless runways around the world as a fashion model for big-name designers for the past 17 years.
So what’s so special about the stage at Reliant Arena that the UST senior will walk across on Saturday?
This short trip across the stage has a diploma at the end of it. And that diploma, declaring her successful pursuit of a major in International Studies, will allow her to trade the frenetically paced days of spotlights and silk into equally high-stress scenarios involving sustainable energy resources.
At the University of St. Thomas, this 33-year-old model, who was attracted to UST because of its reputation as a friendly place for non-traditional students, discovered her very specific ambition that would seem to be a world away from the international fashion scene.
Dillon was accepted into the Kennedy School of Public Policy at Harvard University, and will start classes this fall to pursue a job as a senior policy advisor in international economic development. She initially took courses to become a teacher, and took an introductory course in International Studies as an elective.
She had always harbored an interest in foreign policy and international economics, having witnessed the results of it firsthand during her travels to Africa, the near and Far East and Europe. “I couldn’t believe there was a class like that, about everything I like to read,” said Dillon, who was a regular reader of The Economist and read books on the Middle East and world history. She said melding a career in modeling with one in international economics and development is a natural fit.
“It’s not so different, really,” Dillon said. “I’ve traveled all over the world, and I’ve witnessed the global inequality all over the developing world. I’ve seen poverty firsthand, and I’ve seen just how unequal this world is.”
Her goal is to make a difference by developing economic policies that will extradite poverty-wracked countries and their citizens from seemingly hopeless foreign debt, epidemic AIDS and starvation on a grand scale by bringing the United States into a more active role in solving the problems.
“Being an American, you see how isolated we are from the rest of the world,” she said. “Seeing all this made me think twice about how I behaved and what I took for granted.
“In fashion, intellect is not a valued trait, and intellectual interests certainly weren’t going to get me any modeling jobs,” Dillon said. “But the fashion world is full of really smart people. It’s just that their priorities are different.”
When Dillon gets to the Kennedy School this fall, she will join UST graduates Jessica Gomez and Vanessa Acker from the School of International Studies. As a student activist, she joined celebrities and activists in the ONE Campaign in the summer of 2005 that traveled to Scotland to lobby the G-8 Summit for more poverty-focused development. The campaign operates on the premise that one person can make a difference in the global picture.
To demonstrate that, Dillon organized Trade Justice Day on campus for the past two years, featuring agricultural products that were grown without the use of slave or child labor. Students brought cakes and muffins made with fair trade sugar and other items.
Dillon said the event was just an offshoot of the passion she has found for her career but it was also her responsibility to raise awareness. “I really think the more fortunate people of the world have a responsibility to help those who are less fortunate,” she said. “Our generation has a challenge to make this right.”