Political science student awarded foreign service fellowship

Political science student Malcolm Phillips has been named a 2012 Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellow by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.

The fellowship is given to undergraduate students who wish to pursue a career as a Foreign Service officer with the U.S. Department of State. It provides financial and academic support for fellows through the completion of their undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Phillips, a senior political science major, hopes to join the Foreign Service upon graduation in order to assist Americans abroad by working as a Consular Officer.

“With the consular track, I feel like you can see the fruits of your labor every single day,” said Phillips. “Knowing that every single day I can make a positive difference or change a life – that’s what motivates me.”

The fellowship, awarded to only 20 students annually, includes financial support for tuition, room, board and mandatory fees for Phillips’ senior year of college and first year of graduate school. Fellows are required to participate in two 10-week summer internships– one domestic and one overseas– and they must take the Foreign Service Officer Test and the Foreign Service Oral Assessment.

Fellows also will receive mentoring from a Foreign Service Officer during their graduate studies and are obligated to work for the Foreign Service for at least three years after completing their education.

“Malcolm is a very deserving recipient of the Pickering Fellowship, and a great example what UCF students can accomplish,” said Nicole Gelfert, director of the Office of Prestigious Awards at the Burnett Honors College. “He has sought out opportunities to better himself and his community through his work with UCF Student Disability Services and as a HOPE Center Volunteer. Through the Pickering Fellowship, he is now one step closer to his ambition of becoming a career Foreign Service officer.”

Phillips was encouraged to pursue the opportunity by  Harriet Elam-Thomas, a former ambassador to Senegal and the program director for Diplomacy Studies at UCF.

“To me, this award means direction,” said Phillips. “I’ve always had ideas about what I wanted, but like many other college students, I’ve been lost at times. Being a part of this program feels as if I’ve finally been given the help and direction I needed. The doors are now open to me.”


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