Alaina Brown '13, a religion major and black studies minor from Springfield, Mass., is the recent recipient of a Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship. The program, funded by The U.S. Department of State and administered by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, recruits outstanding students in their academic and professional preparation to enter the U.S. Department of State Foreign Service.
The program recognizes students that demonstrate the exceptional cultural adaptability, initiative, and intellect that is required of Foreign Service officers. Brown is only one of 20 undergraduate students to receive an annual contribution of $40,000 for her senior year of college and first year of graduate study. As part of the program, she will complete two summer internships, one abroad and one domestic, as well as receive mentoring from a current officer.
"I have had a great time so far," says Brown, who has met with her mentor twice this summer to discuss her future plans. "It shows me that working as a Foreign Service officer allows you to develop new relationships and to enjoy new possibilities." Brown is eager to enter the field, which would allow her to delve into her passion of language and culture while also developing professional skills.
"Receiving the Pickering Fellowship is something that I did not expect," she admits. "It assures me that there is room for something 'different' in the world of international relations." Brown, whose courses have included those in religion, sociology, and Arabic, has yet to take a political science class at Swarthmore, but plans to do so during the forthcoming academic year.
"I am excited," she says, "to have the opportunity to work with different people in different parts of the world."