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Spencer Salibur (above) is one of this year's winners of the Thomas R. Pickering foreign affairs fellowships.

Two Posse Scholars Selected for Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowships

April 23, 2014

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – Two Middlebury juniors – Rana Abdelhamid and Spencer Salibur – have been selected for Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowships, which provide academic and professional preparation for candidates seeking careers in the foreign service.

Rana Abdelhamid

A collaborative program of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and the U.S. Department of State, the highly competitive fellowship provides up to $40,000 per year for two years of combined undergraduate and graduate study. Pickering fellows also receive valuable mentoring, training, and professional development to prepare them to serve as U.S. foreign service officers.

Rana Abdelhamid, from Flushing, N.Y., is an international politics and economics major at Middlebury who will graduate in May 2015 and plans to apply to graduate programs at the Harvard Kennedy School and Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

A Posse Foundation scholar, Abdelhamid at age 17 founded the Women’s Initiative for Self Empowerment, a self-defense, leadership, and entrepreneurship program for Muslim girls in New York City. In just four years it has attracted over 150 participants, and one public school in Queens is considering offering it as an elective class. At Middlebury she has been a founder and president of the college chapter of Amnesty International, a facilitator of “JusTalks” to promote discussions on campus about justice, a fellow in the Center for Social Entrepreneurship, and a leader of an alternative spring break trip to Dominican Republic.

Abdelhamid is currently studying at the C.V. Starr-Middlebury School in Getafe, Spain.

Spencer Salibur, also a Posse Foundation scholar, is passionate about learning languages, studying economics, and absorbing other cultures. Currently studying in Rio de Janeiro with the C.V. Starr-Middlebury School in Latin America, she believes that a career path as a foreign service officer will enable her to fortify U.S. economic policy abroad and work with individuals in emerging nations, like Brazil, to develop stronger ties with the U.S. and a more sustainable economy.

A junior from Harlem, N.Y., Salibur has studied Portuguese, Spanish, and French at Middlebury, and is majoring in international studies with a dual focus in Latin America and economics. She has been active in community service for Atwater Commons and was an orientation leader for international students. After graduation in May 2015, Salibur plans to pursue a master’s degree in diplomacy and economics.

Pickering fellows are expected to take the Foreign Service Examination and make a five-year commitment to serving as a foreign service officer.

The fellowship program honors Career Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering, who holds the highest title in the U.S. Foreign Service. Pickering, now 82, served as ambassador to Nigeria, El Salvador, Israel, India, and the Russian Federation, and finished his career as under secretary of state for political affairs.


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