Fellowships Will Advance Bucknellians’ Goals of Diplomatic Service

May 17, 2018

International relations major Ashley Jones-Quaidoo '18 has aspired to be an ambassador since childhood. For Nigel Robinson '14, dreams of diplomacy didn't come into sharp focus until after he graduated from Bucknell and found himself at a career "crossroads."

Yet both Jones-Quaidoo and Robinson, who also majored in international relations, are on the path to careers with the U.S. Department of State after earning prestigious fellowships that will support their graduate studies in the foreign service.

"My grandmother always told stories about sitting me in front of the television to watch the news," explained Jones-Quaidoo, who was awarded a Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship. "After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, I watched our troops go into Iraq, and I thought they were so selfless and brave. I wanted to give back to my country, too."


After considering joining the military, Jones-Quaidoo, a Posse scholar, instead set her sights on the foreign service, a career that would combine her passions for serving others, writing and representing the United States. This fall, with support from the Pickering award, she will join the security studies program at Georgetown University's Walsh School of Foreign Service.

"I want to focus on the issues of human trafficking and human rights," she said. "I see myself as a woman who can empathize with and empower women across the world."

Pickering fellowships, which are funded by the U.S. Department of State, provide graduate students with financial support, mentoring and professional development. This academic year, Rose Quispe '18, who majored in French & Francophone studies and economics, was  a semi-finalist for the award.

"When I learned that I'd earned the scholarship, I thought, 'This is really happening,' " Jones-Quaidoo said. "This is my dream."

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Posse alumnus Robinson, who earned a Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellowship, worked for three years at the Boston-based nonprofit Steppingstone Foundation before deciding to pursue his interest in the foreign service.

Describing Steppingstone as "Posse on a junior scale," Robinson said he worked with 140 students in sixth through 12th grades, helping to guide them to academic success.

"I loved what I was doing," he said. "But I'm also interested in creating bridges between different countries and constituencies and helping people in developing nations."

His Rangel Fellowship will set him on a seven-year path that includes a Congressional internship, graduate study at Tufts University, hands-on experience at a U.S. embassy and eventual service as a diplomat. Ultimately, he hopes to combine his passion for education with his diplomatic service.

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Robinson noted that his Bucknell coursework and a Bucknell Brigade trip to Nicaragua helped to spark his interest in global issues and he expressed gratitude to Professor Paul Susman, geography; Coralynn Davis, professor of women's & gender studies and faculty director for academic civic engagement; and Professor Sue Ellen Henry, education, for supporting him during and after his time at the University.

Quaidoo-Jones added that her Bucknell experience also helped to advance her career path.

"I'm so appreciative of my time here, because I've come in contact with amazing students, who have similar interests but different backgrounds," she said. "I've been able to meet wonderful faculty, study abroad in Spain and volunteer in the Dominican Republic. I wouldn't be the person I am today without those experiences. I value all that Bucknell has given me."

Pointing specifically to the support of her fellow Posse scholars and staff in Bucknell's Office of Undergraduate Fellowships & Research, she added, "I know what I want and I follow my purpose with persistence, courage and the inspiration from all those around me."