Two Earn Foreign Affairs Fellowships

By Nate Sans

Two students, Rana Abdelhamid ’15 and Spencer Salibur ’15, were selected as winners of prestigious Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowships which will provide them with financial support for two years of undergraduate and graduate study in preparation for work as a Foreign Service Officer.

The Pickering Fellowship, named in honor of Thomas R. Pickering, former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, El Salvador, Israel, India and the Russian Federation, provides “academic and professional preparation for outstanding candidates to enter the U.S. Department of State Foreign Service, representing America’s interests abroad.” Winners receive up to $40,000 annually for two years meant to defray costs of attending undergraduate and graduate school. Recipients also commit to a minimum of five years of service as a Foreign Service Officer in the United States Department of State.

Through the Fellowship and her eventual service as a Foreign Service Officer, Abdelhamid hopes to continue the work as a human rights advocate that she started in her teenage years. When Abdelhamid was 17, she founded the Women’s Initiative for Self Empowerment (WISE), which teaches young women self-defense, leadership and entrepreneurship skills. She worked on human rights causes through Amnesty International at home in Flushing, New York before coming to the College and founding the College’s own chapter of Amnesty International.

Abdelhamid plans to apply to programs at the Harvard Kennedy School and Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, and is also interested in going to law school. “Either way,” she wrote in an email, “I want to continue my women’s rights advocacy work.”

On April 29, it was also announced that Abdelhamid was selected for a 2014 Harry S. Truman Scholarship, which provides $30,000 for specialized study.

Salibur, who is an International and Global Studies major with dual focuses on Latin America and Economics, wrote in an email that she has been fascinated with foreign countries from a young age and attributed that interest to her parents, who are from Haiti and Guadeloupe and raised her in a trilingual household speaking French, Haitian Creole and English.

“I applied for the fellowship because of my interest in working abroad to learn from and strengthen relations with other communities abroad and because of the strong relation between working in the foreign service,” Salibur wrote. “I am really excited for many parts of this opportunity: to go to graduate school and further my education and understanding of international affairs and economics; … for my postings abroad [and] the opportunity to be a foreign service officer and the amazing opportunity to work, connect and learn about other communities abroad.”

Both winners are also Posse Foundation scholars. The Posse Foundation awards scholarships to partner institutions such as Middlebury to high-achieving students “who may be overlooked by traditional college selection processes.” The College has hosted Posse classes (groups of students from New York, Chicago and Los Angeles) each year since 1999.

Additional reporting by RENEE CHANG