Valli (Sindhu) Chidambaram and Hannah Clager, two University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill alumni, were selected as 2018 Thomas R. Pickering Graduate Foreign Affairs Fellows. Recipients of the Pickering Fellowship receive two years of financial support and professional development to prepare them for a career in the U.S. 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.
Managed and funded by the U.S. Department of State, consideration is given to qualified applicants who have displayed outstanding leadership skills and academic achievement. The fellowship aims to support those historically underrepresented in the U.S. Foreign Service, including women, minority groups and students with financial need.
Chidambaram, from Rockville, Maryland, graduated in May 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in global studies concentrating in global health and environment and double minors in Spanish for the professions and medical anthropology. With a grant from the Carolina Asia Center, she studied abroad in Singapore, Malaysia and Japan. Then, as part of the Honors Semester in Cape Town program, she conducted burns research at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital. Sindhu has interned with both U.S. Agency for International Development Indonesia and the U.N. Foundation’s Global Alliance For Clean Cookstoves.
At UNC-Chapel Hill, she has worked as the arts and culture senior writer for the student newspaper The Daily Tar Heel, volunteered at the Compass Center for Women and Families and mentored Latinx high school students through the Scholars’ Latino Initiative. Chidambaram will pursue her master’s degree in international development studies at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University this fall. She ultimately hopes to work as a management or public diplomacy officer.
Hannah Clager, from Lake Worth, Florida, will attend Harvard University this fall to pursue her master’s degree in Middle Eastern Studies. Her studies will focus on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and North Africa; human rights and refugee affairs; and cultural diplomacy in the region. Clager earned her bachelor’s degree in 2013 with a major in art history and a minor in African studies. At UNC-Chapel Hill, she completed her art history honors thesis on the 2012 Dakar Biennale after seven months of fieldwork in Dakar, Senegal. She worked as a full-time paralegal for close to three years and then spent 14 months in Morocco as a Fulbright Student Researcher beginning in 2016, where she studied Arabic and completed a case study of the new Mohammed VI Modern and Contemporary Art Museum in Rabat.
“Both Hannah and Sindhu have worked very hard for these opportunities, are eminently qualified, and will increase the diversity of the U.S. Department of State. Receiving the Pickering is a great honor. UNC-Chapel Hill is proud to have these representatives working in U.S. foreign affairs,” said Professor Inger Brodey, director of the Office of Distinguished Scholarships.