One thing becomes very clear very quickly once you start talking to Paul Priam: he’s going places.
Priam, a DIS alumnus who graduated in 2010, is back in Dallas on break from his demanding job working with French politician Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, who recently finished up her campaign for president of France. Though she ultimately exited in the primary stage, Priam said he learned a lot and is excited to permanently join Kosciusko-Morizet’s team on a full-time basis as a national security advisor and legal counsel. But Priam’s journey didn’t start there.
“I was born in France, and then I moved to Mexico with my family at the age of eight,” Priam said. “After a few years there, we arrived in Dallas.”
Priam began his studies at DIS in 2004, his 7th grade year. He excelled throughout his time at the school, culminating with his graduation in 2010. He then moved on to tackle his next big challenge: studying at Sciences Po, the premier university in France.
“I knew I wanted to go to Sciences Po since I was 12 years old,” Priam said. “I studied on the Euro-American program there. It was the perfect fit for me.”
Sciences Po is somewhat like other state university systems in the U.S. which spread their network of campuses throughout cities in a specific state. The university’s main campus is in Paris, but it has six locations throughout the country.
“For years, Sciences Po has been creating campuses that focus on geographic zones,” Priam said. “Each campus focuses on a specific region of the world. In 2010, it opened a campus in Reims with its focus being North America. It was perfect for me, since I had just graduated from DIS right at that time.”
Since the campus was brand new, Priam helped get its student life department up and running as part of the inaugural class.
“We had to create everything,” Priam said. “We created the student union, the sports association, the arts association, all of it. I was the vice president of the student council. I learned a lot.”
One of the things he learned was that he loved the law. It usually takes a student three years to obtain their bachelor’s degree in France. At Sciences Po, the student spends the first two years at their home campus and the third year on a study abroad. Having already spent substantial time in the U.S., Priam chose to go to Australia and study law at the University of Sydney.
“I had a long break during the holidays, so I ended up working in New Caledonia at the office of the minister of government,” Priam said. “Sciences Po is historically a social sciences and public service school. So through my studies and that job I learned that public service was what I really wanted to do.”
With the plans for his future becoming clearer, Priam went back to France upon graduation and obtained his master’s degree in public affairs. He then began a string of jobs in government that helped eventually lead him to his prestigious appointment to Kosciusko-Morizet’s team.
“Not many people my age usually work in a job like this,” Priam said. “So I’m really grateful. I’m grateful for DIS because it prepared me to work in a very challenging environment, both academically and intellectually. The teachers always keep you on your toes.”
Priam also said that the multicultural environment at DIS helped him realize that his potential was unlimited and not hindered by borders or maps.
“Having moved around and having been in an international environment has helped,” Priam said. “I never saw a boundary in flying away from my home. It changes your perspective for the possibilities that you have in the world.”
When he spoke to DIS students, Priam simply told them to aim high and do their best to achieve their goals.
“Choose with your gut,” Priam said. “If there’s something that you’re passionate about, choose that over the safe choice. You might fail, but you’ll never know unless you try. I’m passionate about a lot of different things. I don’t know exactly where I’ll be in five years, but I do know that I’ll be doing something that I’m passionate about.”