Recent Alum Prepares for Foreign Service as a Pickering Fellow
Ellie Miller BA ’20 has been awarded a 2022 Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship following a highly competitive nationwide contest. The Pickering Fellowship, funded by the U.S. Department of State, supports extraordinary individuals who want to pursue a career in the Foreign Service.
Miller, who is the child of foreign correspondents, spent much of her childhood in Europe. She graduated from Lewis & Clark with a double major in French studies and psychology. As an undergraduate, she spent a summer teaching English in Ladakh, India; studied for a semester in Paris; and interned for a summer with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Counterterrorism as a Council of American Ambassadors Fellow. Currently, she is working with CorpsAfrica in Rabat, Morocco, helping manage a volunteer program for Africans modeled on the Peace Corps. Miller loves learning languages, riding horses, surfing, and spending time outdoors. She is proficient in French and Darija.
Miller began thinking about foreign policy as a career when she taught English in rural India. “I was struck by the stories that village elders shared about the confusion and danger they experienced as children living in a disputed border region,” she says. “I realized that I could use my privilege as an American to join the diplomatic corps of a global superpower and help shape policies that would impact these kinds of issues.”
The Pickering Fellowship will support Miller through a two-year graduate program to receive a master’s degree in an area relevant to the conduct of U.S. foreign policy. It will also provide extensive professional development opportunities, including internships, mentors, and skills training. As part of the Pickering program, Miller will have an internship based in Washington, D.C., working with the U.S. Department of State in summer 2023. In the summer of 2024, the U.S. Department of State will send her overseas to work and to gain hands-on experience with U.S. foreign policy and the work of the Foreign Service. Upon graduation, Miller will become a U.S. Foreign Service Officer, promoting peace and prosperity around the world.
Miller is currently applying to graduate programs and would like to research how U.S. security policy can help prevent conflict and radicalization. She’s particularly interested in the Middle East and North Africa and wants to explore how conditions like poverty, lack of education, or marginalization can contribute to making people more vulnerable to extremist ideology.
“I believe a big part of my success in winning this fellowship and earning my prior State Department internship was the fact that I had a different academic background than most of my peers, but still demonstrated a strong interest in languages and international relations,” says Miller. “You don’t have to major in international affairs to be a good diplomat. What’s most important is that you are curious about the world around you.”