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Ryan St. Jean Named a 2024 Pickering Graduate Foreign Affairs Fellow
Ryan St. Jean ’24, an international relations major in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and the College of Arts and Sciences, has been named a 2024 Thomas R. Pickering Graduate Foreign Affairs Fellow. He is one of only 45 recipients chosen from hundreds of applicants from around the nation for this prestigious honor.
Funded by the U.S. Department of State and administered by the Washington Center, the Pickering Fellowship awards recipients two years of financial support, mentoring and professional development to prepare them for a career in the Foreign Service. Fellows also complete a domestic internship at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., and an overseas internship at a U.S. embassy.
“Ryan’s academic accomplishments, internship experiences and impressive understanding of foreign affairs make him an excellent fit for the Pickering Fellowship and a career in the Foreign Service,” says Jolynn Parker, director of the Center for Fellowship and Scholarship Advising (CFSA).
“Ryan is extraordinarily thoughtful and passionate about the issues facing the United States abroad. I have no doubt that he will be an outstanding representative of our country during his service in the State Department,” adds Adam Crowley, an advisor with CFSA who assisted St. Jean with his application.
A member of the Renée Crown University Honors Program, St Jean recently participated in the Maxwell in Washington program during the fall 2023 semester, where he served as a White House intern in the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. This past summer, he served as an intern with Freedom House in New York City, an organization that supports and defends democracy around the world. There, he supported Juneteenth and Disability Pride Month events and facilitated international operations through support in field office staffing, logistics and related activities.
St. Jean studied abroad in Strasbourg, France in the fall of 2022, working with Collectif pour l’accueil des solliciteurs d’asile de Strasbourg to design and implement English language instruction for asylum seekers. He also served as an intern with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and as a peer mentor with Syracuse University’s International Student Success Program.
Among his many honors, he is a recipient of the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship and is a Ronald E. McNair Scholar. He is president of the University’s chapter of Sigma Iota Rho, a member of the Syracuse University Alumni Association Board of Directors (Class of 2024 representative to the National Board) and a deputy chief justice with the Student Association Supreme Court. St. Jean previously served as a member of the University’s Department of Public Safety Student of Color Advisory Committee.
Get to know what inspires St. Jean, how the Pickering Fellowship will help him achieve his goals, and more!
01What inspired you to work towards a career in foreign affairs?
Growing up, I lived in a very multicultural community in the Bronx, New York. From a young age, I gained a curiosity and appreciation for exploring different cultures and traditions. This exploration manifested in frequent visits to community festivals, performances and art exhibits, each offering a vibrant showcase of cultural richness.
Additionally, throughout my youth, I’d devote countless hours to watching (chef) Anthony Bourdain’s shows. His ability to showcase the intricate connections between history, cuisine and people, who were sometimes contentious, had a significant influence on me. Bourdain’s portal through my television screen was my first introduction to the art of diplomacy and inspired me to also serve as a bridge between people.
Along with my deep appreciation for public service, a career in foreign affairs was a natural connection between my curiosity of wanting to better understand our world and my desire to help improve its condition.
02What have been your most impactful experiences?
My summer internship with the U.S. Department of State was one of my most engaging and eye-opening experiences. I had the opportunity to assist in facilitating cultural and professional exchanges between international visitors from every corner of the world and the U.S. I was also able to contribute to research on future initiatives aimed at expanding our impact and building greater global understanding.
On campus, my time as a peer mentor to international students was also an extraordinarily meaningful experience. I had the opportunity to assist new students from several countries in their transition to learning and living in the U.S. This role allowed me to not only support their academic journey but also foster a sense of belonging and community.
03What are your career goals, and how will the Pickering Fellowship help you accomplish this goal?
The Pickering Fellowship provides funding for a two-year master’s degree and a pathway into the U.S. Foreign Service. Foreign service officers select one of five tracks, called “cones,” that will shape the type of work you do on future assignments. I’d like to either be a political or public diplomacy coned officer. A political officer primarily reports on developments within a country back to Washington, while a public diplomacy cone officer is responsible for communicating directly with foreign audiences on U.S. policy and facilitating exchange programs. In either track I choose, the Pickering Fellowship has allowed me the opportunity to enter a career of service, challenge and lifelong learning, which I am eager to begin.
Students interested in learning more about the Pickering Fellowship should contact the Center for Fellowship and Scholarship Advising at firstname.lastname@example.org.