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The international education of Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex

Meghan Markle
Meghan Markle was born and raised in Los Angeles. You could say “Hollywood” was a big influence for her acting passion. Source: Andrew Cowie/AFP

Meghan Markle was born and raised in Los Angeles. You could say “Hollywood” was a big influence for her acting passion. To add to that, her father was a TV director of photography and a lighting director, a position that allowed young Markle to visit the set of “Married … with Children.” Her mother, on the other hand, was a social worker and yoga instructor.  

Markle’s education consisted of private schooling, starting at Hollywood Little Red Schoolhouse when she was only two years old. When she was 11, she ran a campaign to get a company to change a national television commercial she saw as sexist on Nick News. After Hollywood Little Red Schoolhouse, she went to Immaculate Heart High School, a Catholic, independent, college preparatory school, located on a beautiful hillside property in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles.

Meghan Markle

Markle with her mother, Doria Ragland, a yoga instructor and social worker. Source: Ben Stansall/AFP

Her educational journey then led her to Northwestern’s School of Communication where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree as a double major in theatre and international studies. 

A semester abroad in Spain

Markle left campus for a few months after her junior year at Northwestern. She interned at the US Embassy in Buenos Aires and considered a career in politics. In September 2002, she was off to Madrid as part of a three-month programme offered by IES Abroad.

The Institute for the International Education of Students, or IES Abroad, is a non-profit organisation that administers study abroad programmes for US college-aged students. Its distinguished list of alumni includes Janet Napolitano (President of University of California, and former US Secretary of Homeland Security), John Irving (writer and Academy award-winning screenwriter), Faye Sahai (Global Head of Innovation and Digital Business Centers, AIG) and Sue Chen (CEO, NOVA Medical Products). This was the organisation that facilitated Markle’s 2002 semester abroad in Madrid, Spain.

Meghan Markle

Markle fully immersed herself in Spanish culture. Source: Gerard Julien/AFP

Here, she practised her Spanish, and was immersed in the culture, cuisine, and history of the capital city. She also took five courses which were mainly taught in Spanish and stayed with a host family. The result? Perfect Spanish. When she visited Homeboy Industries last July, the group’s founder Father Greg Boyle heard her speaking Spanish with one young woman. “She just went right into Spanish, which was a revelation—and it was very good,” Boyle shares.

When Markle returned to Northwestern University, she took classes on African-American playwrights taught by Harvey Young, author of the book “Embodying Black Experience,” which won the “Book of the Year” awards from the National Communication Association and the American Society for Theatre Research. 

Young remembers talking with Markle during office hours about her experiences being a biracial woman and the challenges that this had to do with being accepted in certain communities. 

Meghan Markle

When she was 11, she ran a campaign to get a company to change a national television commercial she saw as sexist on Nick News. Source: Handout/Justice For Girls/AFP

Fast forward to today, Markle is the Duchess of Sussex, married to Prince Harry. Prior to joining the royal family, she was best known for her acting role in the Canadian television series “Suits” as Rachel Zane. For three years from 2014, she was also the founder and editor-in-chief of a lifestyle website — The Tig — which profiled influential women such as Jessica Alba, Gail Simmons, Lauren Bush, among many. In 2016, she began her work with different organisations in Africa and Asia under World Vision as a Global Ambassador and the United Nations Entity for gender equality and the empowerment of women.

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