Published June 25, 2021 by Jordyn Birmingham ’24

A Meeting of Two US Diplomats, from Bowdoin Classes Sixty Years Apart

Mariya Ilyas ’13, who began her first foreign service assignment in Jordan in 2019, sat down with Thomas Pickering ’53, a longtime diplomat and 1984 Bowdoin honorand, to talk about their shared vocation.

Pickering, who helped found the Bowdoin Public Service Initiative to inspire students to public service, has been an ambassador to several nations during his forty years in the Foreign Service. Ilyas, who was a  Thomas R. Pickering Graduate Fellow, is currently vice consul at the US Embassy in Amman, Jordan. 

In their discussion, they cover Pickering's early life and time at Bowdoin, his career in the US Foreign Service, and some of the global challenges facing the world today. "To many people, Ambassador Pickering is known as a five-star diplomat, but to me he has proved to be a mentor and a role model," Ilyas said.

Watch the full interview, and read the complete transcript here.