Saturday, July 6, 2013
Ashley Simmons has been named among those chosen as 2013 Foreign Affairs Fellows.
Simmons has had an energetic college career. Most recently she worked at the American Embassy in Rome.
“It was while I was there that I decided to apply for the foreign affairs fellowship,” Simmons said. Simmons, the granddaughter of longtime Summerville residents William and Altowease Simmons, will join 40 other men and women as they begin their journey towards representing America as Foreign Service Officers through the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowships.
After an intense selection process, the 2013 Pickering Fellows — 20 Undergraduate Fellows and 20 Graduate Fellows — were identified as candidates with some of the skills crucial for members of the United States diplomatic corps: dedication, leadership, planning, cultural adaptability, and strong communication skills.
Simmons was among those chosen.
Administered for the U.S. Department of State by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, the Pickering Fellowships develop a source of men and women whose academic and professional backgrounds fulfill the skill needs of the State Department and who are dedicated to representing America’s interests abroad.
Selected in their junior year, the 20 Pickering Undergraduate Fellows will receive financial support towards tuition and other expenses during the senior year of college and the first year of graduate study. They are the 20th class of Pickering Undergraduate Foreign Affairs Fellows.
“My father, also of Summerville, was in the Navy for 10 years and that motivated me to want an international affairs career,” Simmons said in an interview on Monday.
The 17th class of Pickering Graduate Foreign Affairs Fellows will receive financial support towards a two-year, full-time master’s degree program in fields such as public policy, international affairs, public administration, and other related academic fields. This year’s Fellows (who include a Fulbright scholar) have been admitted to master’s degree programs at a range of institutions including Harvard University, the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Denver, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, American University, Carnegie Mellon University, and more.
Simmons goal is to attend Harvard graduate school.
“That is my first choice, but I am also looking at Princeton,” she said.
Fellows in both programs participate in one domestic and one overseas internship. Upon the completion of their master’s degree, they commit to three years of service as a Foreign Service Officer for the U.S. Department of State. The Foreign Service, a corps of working professionals who support the President of the United States and the Secretary of State in advancing the interests of the U.S. abroad, are “front-line” personnel who can be sent anywhere in the world, at any time, in service to the diplomatic needs of the United States.
“After school I will have training as a foreign service officer and a consular officer helping American citizens overseas with documents and foreigners trying to come to the United States. I also want to be a people’s advocate for disadvantaged groups,” she said.
The Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship Program is named in honor of one of the most distinguished and capable American diplomats of the latter half of the 20th century. Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering holds the rank of Career Ambassador, the highest rank in the U.S. Foreign Service. He served as Ambassador to Nigeria, El Salvador, Israel, India, and the Russian Federation, finishing his career in the Foreign Service as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs.
The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation identifies and develops leaders and institutions to meet the nation’s critical challenges. In these areas of challenge, the Foundation awards fellowships to enrich human resources, works to improve public policy, and assists organizations and institutions in enhancing practice.