Alumnus Aaron Scherf Earns Donald M. Payne International Development Fellowship


MACON – Mercer University alumnus Aaron Scherf recently received a Donald M. Payne International Development Fellowship to fund his graduate study and place him in a position with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) upon graduation.

“Aaron is one of the most accomplished students ever to graduate from Mercer,” said Dr. David A. Davis, director of fellowships and scholarships and associate professor of English. “He has won numerous awards and scholarships, started businesses and served on SGA, but his focus has consistently been on improving the lives of others. The Payne Scholarship will prepare him for a career addressing the greatest humanitarian issues of our time. He is one Mercerian who will change the world.”

Scherf, from Acworth, earned his bachelor's degree in May, completed a month-long Humanity in Action Fellowship in Amsterdam on June 25, and will conduct research in Germany for 10 months during the upcoming academic year as a Fulbright U.S. Student Award recipient. He hopes to pursue a master's degree in international development or international trade and investment policy.

“It is an incredible honor to be selected for this unique program. The dedication to peace and justice that Congressman Payne demonstrated throughout his life is an inspiration for all those who work to help others. I am proud to join the other fellows in continuing his legacy of global cooperation and inclusive development,” said Scherf. “All I can say is how much I appreciate all of the people who have made this possible, from the program staff at USAID and Howard University to my friends, family and mentors back home, particularly my fellow Mercerians, whose commitment to service inspired my own commitment to help build a more stable, prosperous world.”

As an undergraduate, Scherf triple-majored in international business, finance and economics with minors in global development studies and management.

He served as vice president of the Student Government Association and was an active member of Lambda Chi Alpha social fraternity, Delta Sigma Pi professional business fraternity and the Enactus Social Entrepreneurship Team, which he founded. He also founded LandLink LLC, a social enterprise focused on making property analytics more accessible.

Scherf was a Stamps Scholar, James T. McAfee Endowed Vision and Leadership Scholar, Visionary Student with the Research that Reaches Out Office and peer adviser.

He graduated summa cum laude with University honors and received the Wallace DuVall Excellence in Leadership Award.

The Payne Fellowship is designed for young people who want to work on the front lines of some of today's most pressing global challenges, such as poverty, hunger, injustice, disease, environmental degradation, climate change, conflict and violent extremism.

The fellowship offers up to $93,000 in benefits over two years for graduate school, internships and professional development activities, and provides a unique pathway to the Foreign Service of the U.S. Agency for International Development. Named in honor of longtime development champion, the late Congressman Donald Payne, the fellowship is funded by USAID and administered by Howard University. For more information, visit