MACON – Mercer University senior Donald Williams Jr. recently received the prestigious Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship to pursue a master’s degree in international economic policy before beginning work for the U.S. Foreign Service.
The Pickering Fellowship Program, funded by the U.S. Department of State and administered by Howard University, provides funding to qualified college seniors and graduates to help finance two-year graduate programs. Fellowships also include two summer internships, mentoring from a Foreign Service Officer and other professional development activities in exchange for a five-year commitment to the U.S. Foreign Service.
Fellows currently represent the United States in countries around the world, in areas as diverse as Africa, East Asia, Latin America, South Asia, Europe and Eurasia. They promote human rights, assist American citizens overseas, enhance prosperity and development, deepen ties between the U.S. and people around the world and support U.S. global values and interests in many different ways.
“I am extremely excited to begin this new phase of development in my life,” said Williams. “The Pickering Fellowship will help me actualize my goals and give me a solid foundation to better serve the American people once I enter the Foreign Service.”
Williams Jr., from Columbus, is double-majoring in international business and economics with a minor in marketing. His interests include international trade and development, real estate and sales. The Pickering Fellowship will bring him one step closer to his aspiration to become a U.S. Foreign Service Officer.
At Mercer, he is president of the Alpha Tau Chapter of the International Fraternity of Delta Sigma Pi and vice president of the Residence Hall Association. He has been selected as a Benjamin A. Gilman Scholar, Fund for Education Abroad Scholar and a Charles B. Rangel Scholar.
“Donald Williams embodies Mercer’s vision statement to change the world one student at a time,” said Dr. David A. Davis, director of fellowships and scholarships and associate professor of English. “During his time at Mercer, he has had opportunities to study abroad, learn about economic policy and see how the United States influences other countries. As a Pickering Fellow, he is embarking on a career that will allow him to be involved in shaping and implementing foreign policy and change the world.”
The Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship is named in honor of one of the most distinguished and capable American diplomats of the latter half of the 20th century. Pickering served as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs and as U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation, India, Israel, El Salvador, Nigeria and Jordan. He also was the U.S. Ambassador and Representative to the United Nations in New York, where he led the U.S. effort to build a coalition in the U.N. Security Council during and after the first Gulf War.
After retiring from the State Department in 2000, Pickering joined The Boeing Company. He holds degrees from Bowdoin College, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and the University of Melbourne. He speaks French, Spanish and Swahili fluently in addition to Arabic, Hebrew and Russian.