Worldly Scholars

Taylor Cofield
Taylor Cofield

One student and one alumna from the University of Missouri are adding to already impressive lists of accolades after accepting the 2017 Thomas R. Pickering Fellowship. Junior Taylor Cofield earned the undergraduate fellowship, while May 2016 graduate Sasha Gubina received the graduate fellowship.

This is not the first time Cofield and Gubina have claimed prominent honors. Earlier this spring, Cofield was named a Harry S Truman Scholar and last summer she traveled to Jordan to study Arabic after earning a Critical Language Scholarship.

“To be one of 10 undergraduates in the nation selected for the Pickering Fellowship means everything to me because it validates my career path—to join the U.S. State Department as a U.S. diplomat,” Cofield says.

Recipients of the Pickering Fellowship receive 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.

Like Cofield, Gubina has studied in Jordan after being awarded the Boren Scholarship in 2014 as a Mizzou sophomore. Since graduating from MU, Gubina has been in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she works as an analyst for the U.S. Department of Defense.

“Receiving the Pickering Fellowship is the culmination of the hard work I have dedicated to preparing for a career in the State Department,” says Gubina, who was born in Lugansk, Ukraine, where she lived for 10 years.

“As a Ukranian immigrant, I never imagined I would be in a position to achieve such an accolade, but this opportunity shows that it is possible to attain even the loftiest of dreams through diligence, persistence and curiosity.”

Sasha Gubina
Sasha Gubina

While Russian is her first language, Gubina speaks fluent English, some Spanish and hopes to become proficient in Arabic.

“Through this opportunity, I will be able to use my skills gained from an International Development master’s program at American University to empower and change the lives of refugees, focusing on women and children,” Gubina says. “I hope to also help the U.S. create and strengthen alliances, especially if I get to serve as an economic officer. These types of experiences will give me a chance to gain valuable insight of other cultures.”

Cofield’s post-graduation plans include attending an institute in Washington, D.C., through the Truman Foundation and pursuing an internship with the U.S. State Department. She intends to work towards a master’s degree either in Arab studies with an emphasis in political development or in U.S. foreign policy and national security.

“I hope to gain a close-nit peer group that shares my passion for world affairs and U.S. foreign policy, obtain a valuable learning experience within the U.S. State Department through internships and attend one of the best graduate schools in the country,” Cofield says. “Most importantly, I hope to develop a stronger knowledge about diplomacy and the many languages, people and cultures of the world.”

Ten undergraduate and 20 graduate students were selected for the 2017 Thomas R. Pickering Fellowship from hundreds of applicants from more than 270 colleges and universities.

Managed and funded by the Department of State and administered by The Washington Center, the Thomas R. Pickering Graduate and Undergraduate Foreign Affairs Fellowship offers talented students from diverse backgrounds the opportunity to pursue a career in the U.S Foreign Service.