College of Liberal Arts student wins prestigious Pickering Fellowship

International, global studies student Kate Macken readies for career as foreign-service officer

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Kate Macken, a fourth-year international and global studies student in RIT’s College of Liberal Arts, has been awarded the Thomas R. Pickering Graduate Foreign Affairs Fellowship, funded by the U.S. Department of State and administered by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.

Macken, an honors student from Gering, Neb., will be awarded financial support of up to $40,000 per academic year for each of a two-year master’s degree program. In addition to financial support, the fellowship provides graduate-level internship opportunities and mentoring from a foreign-service officer. Macken plans to pursue a master’s degree related to international development with a focus on sustainability and environmental issues. In addition to funding for tuition, she will receive two paid internships—one domestic and one at an embassy abroad— with the U.S. Department of State.

Upon graduating from the master’s degree program, Macken will be required to serve a minimum three years of service as a foreign-service officer.

During her time at RIT, Macken has participated in study-abroad programs in Costa Rica, Egypt and Spain, undertaken study of three foreign languages and completed an internship at the local United Nations Association, all while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. She has also completed coursework to earn a minor in environmental studies and was a member of the women’s swim team.

Christine Kray, associate professor and chairperson of RIT’s sociology and anthropology department, says Macken is among the top five students she has taught in 16 years.

“Kate’s approach to her studies is interdisciplinary and innovative, and her perfect academic record reflects her sharp mind, versatility and stellar work ethic,” Kray says. “Under my mentorship, Kate conducted an independent, qualitative research project investigating the practices, pitfalls and potentials of incorporating locally produced foods into college dining operations. Her solid professionalism, empathy and strong sense of ethics served her very well in this important research. Since before she began her studies, Kate has been driven by a desire to contribute to international peace, security and sustainable environmental cooperation.”

The fellowship helps recruit students in academic programs relevant to international affairs, political, and economic analysis, administration, management and science policy. All student winners must have an interest in pursuing a foreign-service career in the U.S. Department of State and are willing to represent U.S. interests abroad, in addition to meeting all Department of State Foreign Service entry requirements.