Lebanon Valley College Senior Named Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellow

Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellow, Patrick Maxwell, poses in the Peace Garden

Lebanon Valley College senior Patrick Maxwell ’17 has been named a Thomas R. Pickering Graduate Foreign Affairs Fellow by the U.S. Department of State. Maxwell, who will earn a B.S. in international business and economics and a B.A. in global studies from LVC, is one of just 20 Pickering Graduate Fellows selected in 2017. He will benefit from mentoring and professional development in preparation for a career in the Foreign Service, along with financial support for graduate studies. He is LVC’s first Pickering Fellow.

“This is a shining moment for Patrick and for Lebanon Valley College. We couldn’t be prouder,” said Dr. Lewis E. Thayne, LVC president. “He is exactly the kind of smart, broadly prepared, and ambitious graduate the world needs and wants working in diplomacy and foreign policy. Patrick, along with Jasmine and Megan, our two Fulbright Scholars in this year’s senior class, represent the many LVC graduates who are poised to make a difference in their communities. Their prestigious awards recognize the fact that LVC students are poised to make a significant difference in the world.”

Pickering Fellowships are administered by The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars and managed and funded by the U.S. Department of State. Based on a rigorous application and interview process, they are granted to applicants who possess outstanding leadership skills, academic achievement, and an interest in pursuing a Foreign Service career. This year, 10 undergraduate fellows and 20 graduate fellows were selected from more than 500 applicants from more than 270 schools.

Maxwell will receive $75,000 over two years to help defray costs to attend Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, where he will work toward a master of international affairs degree with a concentration in economic and political development, and a regional specialization in African studies. He will 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, and will serve for at least five years as a Foreign Service Officer. 

“I am truly honored to bear the title of a 2017 Pickering Fellow,” said Maxwell. “Considering the competitive nature of this fellowship, I am grateful to the faculty at Lebanon Valley College for the lessons and guidance they have imparted in me that have enabled me to reach this pinnacle of success in my career. Dr. Dolan, Dr. Clark, and Dr. Harpankar have been especially invaluable assets throughout my undergraduate experience, and I am eternally indebted to them for their unwavering support and encouragement. Being awarded this prestigious honor further proves ‘It’s Possible at The Valley.’” 

Maxwell completed a self-designed major in international business and economics with the guidance of Dr. Clark and an honors thesis in support of his second degree in global studies with the direction of Dr. Chris Dolan, chair of history, politics, and global studies, and professor of politics and global studies. Maxwell also is completing a student-faculty research project—using advanced econometric modeling—with Dr. Kshama Harpankar, assistant professor of economics, who is serving as a reader for Maxwell’s honor’s thesis. 

“As faculty, we are driven by the chance to make a difference in the lives of our students,” said Dr. Treva Clark, assistant chair and associate professor of business and economics. “Patrick’s incredible success, and the relentless determination he has shown in going after opportunities that would seem out of reach for so many, highlight how special it is when students make a difference in us. He has made me a better adviser, teacher, and mentor by his imagining of what could be.”

During his undergraduate career, Maxwell completed internships with Tokamakirawo Aids Support and Action Group Awareness NGO in Uganda, and the Pennsylvania Immigrant and Refugee Women’s Network, for whom he now serves on their board of directors. He also volunteered with the Eastern Pennsylvania branch of the American Red Cross’s International Services Department and spent a semester abroad through LVC’s program at the Freie Universität Berlin in Germany

At Lebanon Valley College, Maxwell has earned a Certificate in Leadership and the Silver Community Service Award. He also has been inducted into Sigma Iota Rho (honor society for international studies), Pi Sigma Alpha (honor society for political science), Sigma Alpha Pi (national society of leadership and success), Phi Alpha Epsilon (LVC honor society), and Phi Kappa Pi (honor society for business and economics), and is an active member of Phi Beta Lambda (national business fraternity) and Alpha Phi Omega–Nu Delta (national co-ed service fraternity). 

Lebanon Valley College’s Dr. Philip Benesch, associate professor of politics and faculty director of external scholarships and fellowships, supported Maxwell through the application process. 

“This highly prestigious award is a game-changer that will enable Patrick to hold advantages in experience and education as he pursues a successful diplomatic career,” said Dr. Benesch. “Seeing Patrick serve this Fellowship alongside graduates of top-ranked institutions such as Princeton, University of California, Berkeley, and Dartmouth also will be a game-changer for other LVC students. Patrick’s accomplishment may now inspire them to apply for these renowned national fellowships.”

The 2017 Pickering Fellows hail from 28 undergraduate and graduate institutions and 17 states. Their majors range from international affairs and history to business and economics. Collectively, they have participated in volunteering and service activities in Latin America, Central America, the Middle East, Far East, and Southeast Asia. Prior to becoming Fellows, they engaged in a wide range of fields, including academic research, local and federal government, private companies, international development, and NGOs. 

The Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship Program honors one of the most accomplished U.S. Foreign Service Officers of the 20th century. Ambassador Pickering was appointed Career Ambassador, the highest rank in the U.S. Foreign Service. He served in many leading positions around the world during his Foreign Service career, including Ambassador to Nigeria, El Salvador, Israel, India and Russia. Ambassador Pickering concluded his career as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs.