Two University of Georgia seniors and one recent graduate were selected for the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Graduate Fellowship, marking the first time UGA has had three recipients in one year.
Funded by the U.S. Department of State and administered by Howard University, the Pickering Fellowship prepares outstanding young people for Foreign Service careers in the U.S. Department of State. UGA has had a total of five Pickering Fellows—including the three this year—since the program began in 1992.
The UGA recipients this fall are Clemencia El Antouri, a senior from Covington; Feben Teshome, a senior from Norcross; and Fardosa Hassan, who graduated from UGA in May.
“Clemencia, Feben and Fardosa represent well the mission of the Pickering Fellowship program,” said Elizabeth Hughes, a student affairs professional in the Morehead Honors College who works with students pursuing major scholarships in the Foreign Service sector. “They exemplify leadership and commitment to international cooperation. We look forward to seeing how these outstanding students will use their diverse talents to forge positive relationships between the United States and the rest of the world.”
The Pickering Fellowship offers recent graduates a unique opportunity to promote positive change in the world through a five-year commitment to the Foreign Service after graduate school. Upon successful completion of a two-year master’s degree program and fulfillment of fellowship and Foreign Service entry requirements, fellows have the opportunity to work as Foreign Service Officers with the U.S. Department of State.
The Pickering Program typically awards 45 fellowships of up to $42,000 annually for a two-year period for tuition, room, board, books and mandatory fees for the completion of a two-year master’s degree in an academic field relevant to the work of the Foreign Service.
“I’m incredibly proud of our students,” said Maryann Gallagher, director of the Security Leadership Program, in which El Antouri and Teshome participate as fellows. “Their intelligence, curiosity and deep appreciation for the complexity of U.S. foreign policy will serve them well in their careers as Foreign Service Officers.”
Clemencia El Antouri is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in international affairs in the School of Public and International Affairs and a bachelor’s degree in Romance languages in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. She is an ambassador for the School of Public and International Affairs, a Security Leadership Program Fellow with the Center for International Trade and Security, a member of the Mary Lyndon Hall French Language Community and a junior advisor for the Office of Global Engagement. She is a research associate for BSI America, a consulting firm focused on supply chain management.
Her interests in Middle Eastern affairs and democratic erosion led El Antouri to present her research on democratic backsliding in Turkey at the 2023 SPIA Undergraduate Research Colloquium. She studied abroad in Kyoto, Japan, and Cadiz, Spain. Then, as a Gilman Scholar, she studied advanced Arabic while interning in Amman, Jordan, with the non-governmental organization Partners Jordan, focusing on humanitarian development.
El Antouri speaks Arabic, Spanish and French and is learning Mandarin Chinese.
“It is a dream come true to be named a Pickering Fellow as I knew I always wanted an international career in which I could make a difference in the political arena,” she said. “The Pickering Fellowship enables me to pursue this path directly while also joining a cohort of scholars who share my passion for international affairs, languages and traveling.”
Feben Teshome is studying international affairs in the School of Public and International Affairs and working toward a minor in African studies and a certificate in data analytics. She is a Security Leadership Program Fellow with the Center for International Trade and Security and is actively engaged in Model African Union and the Ethiopian-Eritrean Student Association.
In her current roles, Teshome serves as a public service intern at the Atlanta Mayor’s Office of International and Immigrant Affairs focusing on city-level public diplomacy. She is a research intern with the Office of the Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary of State at the Department of State, where she examines ways to increase STEM education in African countries.
“I am blessed and humbled to be a Pickering Fellow, an opportunity that will afford me the chance to attend graduate school and expand my knowledge across multidisciplinary fields in international affairs and economic development,” Teshome said. “This experience will solidify my commitment to addressing the complex challenges at the intersection of security, development and diplomacy.”
Fardosa Hassan graduated from UGA with bachelor’s degrees in entertainment and media studies from the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication and financial planning from the College of Family and Consumer Sciences. A first-generation Somali American who was born in Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya and immigrated to Clarkston at the age of 8, she brings a unique perspective to her studies and future career.
During her time at UGA, Hassan produced, directed and wrote several short films. Her first film, “Zone 5B,” received an official selection at the 2023 Student World Impact Film Festival (SWIFF). Currently, she is an AmeriCorps member serving at the New American Pathways, a refugee resettlement organization.
“I am honored and elated to be awarded the Pickering Fellowship and excited to embark on a new way of life as a public servant,” Hassan said.
UGA’s major scholarships office, housed in the Morehead Honors College, works closely with all students across campus as they apply for national, high-level scholarships. For more information, visit https://honors.uga.edu/scholarships/external-scholarships/.
For more information on the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Graduate Fellowship Program, visit https://pickeringfellowship.org/.