by Debra Johnson, Published July 02, 2014
YPSILANTI – Trevis Harrold didn’t know that a chance encounter with a U.S. Department of State diplomat during a career fair at EMU would change his life and steer him towards a career in public service. But it did.
Harrold met Jim Ellickson-Brown, a Diplomat in Residence for the U.S. Department of State, at a Call to Serve Government Career Fair hosted by EMU’s Advising and Career Development Center during Harrold’s freshman year. Ellickson-Brown suggested that Harrold read a book entitled ‘Inside a U.S. Embassy.’
“After reading that book, I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in public service,” said Harrold. “I’ve always wanted to help others, so they would have a chance to experience all the positive things life has to offer.”
Harrold, 21, a senior at EMU majoring in political science and economics and minoring in international business, has been awarded one of the coveted Thomas R. Pickering Undergraduate Foreign Affairs Fellowships. Twenty Undergraduate Fellowships were awarded for 2014.
The Pickering Undergraduate Fellows are selected in their junior year. They will receive financial support towards tuition and other expenses during their senior undergraduate year and the first year of graduate study as they prepare for work in the U.S. Foreign Service. Recipients must have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.2 (4.0 scale) and be a U.S. citizen.
The 21st class of Pickering Fellows was selected from 18 different institutions and majored in such fields as political science, economics, Chinese, Russian and Middle Eastern studies. Each Fellow has demonstrated skills critical to be members of the U.S. diplomatic corps, including dedication, initiative, integrity, cultural adaptability, the ability to communicate well and a thorough intellectual background.
The Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship Program is named in honor of one of the most distinguished American diplomats of the latter half of the 20th century. Ambassador Pickering holds the rank of Career Ambassador, the highest rank in the U.S. Foreign Service. He served as ambassador to Nigeria, El Salvador, Israel, India, and the Russian Federation, finishing his career in the Foreign Service as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs.
Harrold, a first generation college student from Saginaw, Mich., is also the first undergraduate at Eastern Michigan University to ever receive the Pickering Undergraduate Award.
“I am very grateful to receive such a generous award, and hope this will encourage other students to apply for such scholarships in the future,” said Harrold. “I truly believe it takes a village to raise a child, so I am happy I could make my family and EMU proud, and pay it forward for all the people who have influenced my life and made me a better person.”
As part of the Fellowship, Harrold will also participate in two paid summer internships - one domestic and one overseas, where he’ll work for the U.S. Department of State in honing his skills in foreign affairs. During this time, he’ll receive professional development through workshops, and seminars and mentoring from Foreign Service officers.
In thinking about graduate school, Harrold says he cannot wait to learn at the next level.
“I am not sure where I will attend graduate school, but I do know I will study public policy and public service wherever I go,” he said. “The thing that fascinates me about this career is that people come to us for help and I really take pride in helping others.”
Immediately after graduate school, Harrold plans to work for the U.S. Department of State as a U.S. Diplomat to fulfill the five-year service commitment required of Pickering Fellows. U.S. Diplomats in the Foreign Service seek to promote peace, support prosperity and protect American citizens while advancing the interests of the U.S. abroad.
When asked what advice he would give to other students who might want to follow in his footsteps, Harrold said he would tell them to never stop chasing their dreams, because dreams really can come true. He advises students to seek out every resource they can and to stay in the pursuit of happiness, just as the founding fathers of this country once wrote.
“I hope to some day become a U.S. Ambassador and serve the American people to the best of my ability,” said Harrold. “I can’t think of anything more exciting or rewarding than to represent the United States and the President and serve in the Foreign Service.”
The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation administers the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowships for the U.S. Department of State. The Fellowships are designed to develop a source of men and women whose academic backgrounds will fulfill the skillset needed for a career in public service and who will represent America’s interests abroad.
The Trevis Harrold File
Who: Trevis Harrold, a senior at Eastern Michigan University
Major: Political science and economics and minoring in international business, with a 3.76 GPA.
Hometown: Saginaw, Mich.
High School: Saginaw Heritage High School, Saginaw, Mich.
Main EMU Activities: Participated in four years of student government as student body senator. Presidential Ambassador for President Martin and a member of the University Judicial Board.
What’s Next: Plans to attend graduate school and then work for the U.S. Department of State as a U.S. Diplomat for the years. He hopes to become a U.S. Ambassador and serve in a country overseas.