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St. Mary’s undergraduate Jessica Carrillo, currently studying in the UK as part of the London Study Abroad program, is the latest student to carry on the University’s tradition of service by being the first St. Mary’s student since 2005 to be awarded the prestigious Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship.

Before leaving for London, Carrillo wrote about what drove her to apply:

When I began my studies at St. Mary’s, I really didn’t know what to expect. Everything was so new and the campus itself seemed so big. Little did I know, however, that the true beauty lay not in the campus itself, but in the community of its faculty, staff and fellow students. The love and support I received from the community gave me the strength to succeed when I stepped into the interview room for the final interview and the ability to face the rigors of international affairs and public policy studies at the University of Michigan’s Summer Institute this past summer.

I was heartbroken when, during my sophomore year, the travel funding for my planned study abroad trip to Japan was cancelled because of the devastating earthquake and tsunami. Feeling defeated, this same community came together and encouraged me to apply for other programs I had not considered. Offers of recommendation letters, application assistance, and feedback on personal statements all aided me in my endeavor. As I pack my bags for London, I realize just how truly blessed I am. With the love and support of the St. Mary’s community, I learned that all it takes to succeed is a little faith, a lot of follow through, and most importantly, the courage to take the first step.

The Pickering Fellowship, named after Former U.S. Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering and funded by the U.S. Department of State, is open to all undergraduate students in their junior year. It prepares students both academically and professionally for entrance into the United States Department of State Foreign Service.

The Fellowship covers tuition, room and board, books, and fees during the senior year and the first year of graduate studies. Recipients of the Fellowship must participate in one 10-week overseas and one 10-week domestic summer internship within the Department of State. During the first year of graduate school, an active duty Foreign Service officer serves as the Fellows mentor, and in return, the Fellow must commit to serve a minimum of three years as a Foreign Service Officer. Current and prospective graduate students are encouraged to apply to the Pickering Graduate Foreign Affairs Fellowship.

By Timothy Powell, Administrative Assistant for Political Science

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