Senior wins State Department’s prestigious Pickering Fellowship
Aspiring diplomat Brandy Darling ’19 has been selected as a 2019 Thomas R. Pickering Graduate Foreign Affairs Fellow. One of the U.S. Department of State’s most competitive and prestigious programs, the Pickering Fellowship provides two years of financial support for graduate study as well as professional development and mentoring to prepare fellows for a career in the U.S. Foreign Service. Fellows also complete an internship at the State Department in Washington, D.C., and an internship at a U.S. embassy abroad.
Funded by the State Department and administered by Howard University, the Pickering Fellowship is awarded to applicants who have displayed outstanding academic achievement and leadership skills. Based on the principle that diversity is a strength in diplomatic efforts, the program values varied backgrounds, including ethnic, racial, social and geographic diversity. Upon successful completion of the program, Pickering Fellows have the opportunity to work as a foreign service officer, serving either in D.C. or at a U.S. embassy, consulate or diplomatic mission around the globe.
Darling is an economics and East Asian studies double major and Posse scholar from Chicago, Illinois. A scholar in the Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts, she has a particular interest in China. As a first-year student, she joined the East Asian Studies Student Advisory Board and worked as a tutor for a local Chinese-speaking elementary school student. She also presented in Mandarin at the annual World Languages Conference at New London’s Regional Multicultural Magnet School.
In 2016, Darling was awarded a prestigious Critical Language Scholarship, which the State Department awards to outstanding students who are pursuing fluency in an essential world language by studying abroad. The scholarship allowed Darling to spend the summer in Dalian, China, immersing herself in Mandarin at the Dalian University of Technology. As a junior, she studied abroad in Harbin, China, and completed an internship with the African Chamber of Commerce in China. She is currently working on a research project examining the macroeconomic effects on China's economy from an influx of scholarships given to African students to study at Chinese universities.
“Brandy is an exceptionally talented young woman, scholar and leader. Over the course her undergraduate studies both on- and off-campus, she has developed tremendous intercultural skills and a global mindset in the best sense,” said Amy Dooling, associate dean of global initiatives, director of The Walter Commons for Global Study and Engagement and professor of Chinese, who also serves as Darling’s Posse mentor.
“I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to work with her over the past three and a half years and to witness her progress and the incredible ways in which her college journey has unfolded. She is eminently deserving of the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship, which will enable her to pursue her life-long goal of joining the U.S. Foreign Service.”
With the Pickering Fellowship, Darling hopes to attend the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey to study French and international trade and economic diplomacy and continue to research Sino-African relations from the French West African perspective.
“I’ve wanted to be a diplomat for so long and this fellowship is the biggest step toward that goal,” she said.
Darling says her ultimate goal is to be the U.S. Ambassador to China.
“No one who looks like me has ever been the U.S. Ambassador to China. I could be the first African American and woman to hold that position, and my success could open doors for others who look like me.”