When Samantha Jordan ’13 learned she had won a Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship, her aspirations of a career in the Foreign Service took a giant leap forward.
“It’s a dream opportunity,” says Jordan (Manassas, Va.), who is majoring in international economics and commerce.
As a Pickering Graduate Foreign Affairs Fellow, Jordan is eligible to receive up to $40,000 a year for a master’s degree program in public policy. She will begin applying for graduate programs in the fall and enroll next year.
Between semesters of graduate school, Jordan will complete two internships with the United States Department of State. As part of her fellowship, she also must commit to three years of service as a Foreign Service officer for the State Department.
“I will be able to travel the world, learn different languages, experience different cultures, and meet the heads of state of foreign countries, and get paid for it! I was so excited when I received the email saying I had won the fellowship and I cannot wait to start my new career,” Jordan says.
Each year, 40 students from around the United States—20 undergraduate and 20 just entering master’s degree programs—are named fellows.
The Pickering Fellowships, administered by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation for the State Department, develop a source of well-prepared men and women whose academic backgrounds fulfill the skill needs of the State Department and are dedicated to representing America’s interests abroad.
Jordan’s interest in international affairs began early and was influenced by the diversity of the student body in her high school.
“I had the opportunity to meet and interact with people from many different countries and cultures. I really enjoyed the experience because I believe you learn more from people with experiences and viewpoints different from your own,” she says.
Last summer, she studied in Paris, France, and loved being immersed in the sights, smells, and tastes of another culture. The experience heightened her awareness of current events and was a turning point in her life.
“As an African-American I wasn’t sure how I would be accepted in another country and that was the source of some anxiety for me during my visit,” she says. “It turned out that my anxiety was unwarranted and I had a great time.”
Back in the United States, Jordan researched and wrote an essay regarding French legislation that banned the wearing of headscarves by Muslim women in school and all other public places. She intends to expand upon this research as an independent study in French next semester, and it has sparked her interest in global women’s issues.
“One of the experiences I hope to have as a Foreign Service officer is the opportunity to work in the recently created Office of Global Women’s Issues, where I hope to study, evaluate, and help form policies to ensure the economic viability of women throughout the world,” she says.
If her three-year commitment to the State Department goes well, it could lead to a longer diplomatic career or be a springboard to work in a related field, such as international business consulting.
Jordan is a member of Lafayette’s women’s basketball team, and she has been on the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll for three straight years. She works as a writing associate and a peer mentor, and is also a committee member for Lafayette’s Relay for Life.
For information on applying for scholarships and fellowships, contact Julia A. Goldberg, associate dean of the College, (610) 330-5521.