By Alice Ortiz
AMORY – Growing up on a farm in Itawamba County in a family of seven kids, Sherrill Clark never expected she would one day travel to three continents and 18 countries in Africa. As a kid, when she saw a jet fly over, she would tell herself she was going to be on a plane and out of there.
“I never dreamed I’d make it to Paris. I was divorced with kids in college, living in Denver, Colo., and met somebody in the Foreign Service. I took a test and spent a half day in an interview, which was the hardest interview of my life. I had to spend six months studying current events before that,” she said.
Clark had put on her resume she had shorthand, a skill she learned that while at Itawamba Community College. It proved to be beneficial, as older ambassadors liked to use shorthand in dictating their communication.
“I was assigned to the embassy in Paris and was able to take my youngest daughter with me,” Clark said.
U.S. Foreign Service Diplomats (Ambassadors) are appointed by the president.
“My favorite ambassador was Teddy Taylor, a diplomat to Papua New Guinea. He was fun to work for and I served there twice,” Clark said.
Job requirements for the assistant to the ambassador included attending all diplomatic dinners and helping with the Fourth of July celebrations, which would include hundreds of people.
During Clark’s U.S. Embassy stints and Foreign Service travel, she has been to Paris; Port-au-Prince, Haiti; Gaborone, Botswana; Conakry, Guinea; N’djamena, Chad; Pria, Cape Verde; Bujumbura, Burundi; Niamey, Niger; Nairobi, Kenya; Asmara, Eritrea; Yaoundé, Cameroon; Dakar, Senegal; Accra, Ghana; Cape Town, South Africa; Lagos, Nigeria; Kigali, Rwanda; Freetown, Sierra Leone; Mbabane, Swaziland; Port Louis, Mauritius; Djibouti City, Djibouti; Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea; and Beijing.
“The most glamorous was Paris and the most exotic was New Guinea. I couldn’t have done any of this without the help of the Lord and my three children,” Clark said.
Clark has been semi-retired since 2003 when she had a death in the family. She spent six months in 2006 and 2007 working at embassies and is able to fill in while other ambassador assistants are on leave.
Living in Amory now, she is a substitute teacher at Nettleton, Amory and Monroe County Schools.