The Thomas R. Pickering Fellowship is another step on the path to a foreign service career for the well-traveled Government and History major.
Dylan Hoey ’17, a Government and History dual major at CMC, has accepted one of this year’s 10 undergraduate Thomas R. Pickering Fellowships, which provide recipients with financial support, mentoring services, and professional development opportunities in order to prepare them for a career with the U.S. Foreign Service.
Hoey follows in the footsteps of Dante Toppo ’15, who received the same award in 2014.
“Dylan stands out, and I am not surprised that he was selected,” says Brian Davidson ’08, assistant director for fellowships and national awards in the Center for Global Education at CMC. “He has exactly what they are looking for: Not only does he have experience with critical world regions and languages, but he also possesses a deep familiarity with multiple regions in the U.S., a dedication to serving his country, and a passion for foreign cultures through forging connections based on our shared humanity. I am confident that he will go on to make a superb public affairs officer in the Foreign Service.”
Ambassador Pickering served as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs from 1997 to 2000 and as U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation, India, Israel, El Salvador, Nigeria, and Jordan. The goal of the fellowship is to diversify the U.S. Foreign Service by providing financial support, mentoring, and professional development to future Foreign Service Officers from less common backgrounds. It is extremely selective; hundreds of college juniors apply for the 10 undergraduate spots, and finalists undergo an extensive interview and academic test.
“When I first found out that I had been selected as a Pickering Fellow, I was overwhelmed with emotion,” Hoey says. “It felt like a culmination of all my hard work, of all the sacrifices my family and I had to make in order to reach this point. I thought about my mother, who has always been my source of inspiration and my biggest supporter, despite how painful it was for her to see me leave for a year during high school and then to study out of state in California.
“I thought about how blessed I was to have had the opportunity to travel the world and to be able to share these experiences with my family and friends back home. I thought about all the wonderful people who I have encountered over the course of my travels, and how the times I shared with them and the experiences we had together had propelled me to this point. I also thought about my professors and mentors, who have given me great guidance and advice that have prepared me for this moment.”
Hoey says he became interested in the Pickering Fellowship because of experience he had studying abroad and serving as a State Department Youth Exchange and Study Abroad ambassador. He grew up in the quiet, blue-collar communities nestled in the mountains and forests of central Maine and New York state, but moved to Milwaukee before high school. There, Hoey discovered a State Department program that selects 55 American high schoolers to complete their senior years in predominantly Muslim countries, and he was selected to study in Oman.
Upon enrolling at CMC Hoey took the unusual step of studying abroad twice: first in Istanbul, during the second semester of his sophomore year, and then in Brazil, during the second semester of his junior year. Throughout each of his experiences abroad, he has formed lasting connections with host families and local friends, and has obtained varying degrees of proficiency in Arabic, Spanish, Turkish, and Portuguese, alongside his native English.
“Growing up in Milwaukee and the incredibly diverse neighborhood of Washington Heights, I really gained a deep appreciation for community,” he says. “While attending Rufus King, an international school [in Milwaukee], I made friends with individuals from a wide range of socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds. Being able to learn about my peers, their backgrounds, and their identities was a humbling experience and incredibly inspiring, and I decided that I wanted to study abroad in order to learn more about other identities and cultures, and to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be an American in an international context.”
After living in Oman during his senior year, attending a local host school and conducting public diplomacy with the U.S. ambassador and the U.S. Embassy, Hoey realized that he wanted to continue representing the U.S.
And applying for a Pickering Fellowship was the ideal way to start. In short order, Hoey wrote a statement of intent, provided a transcript and answered a series of questions about his background. After advancing to the semifinal round, he had to write a 60-minute timed essay on a random political topic that was proctored online by a State Department representative. The following week, Hoey had a 30-minute interview over Skype with three Foreign Service Officers and in early May, he was accepted.
Hoey says his mother never had the opportunity to go to college and that most of his family has never left the U.S. “One reason why I have continued to study abroad is simply because we recognize that I have to take advantage of every opportunity that is available to me in this respect,” he says. “Without the State Department, my senior year of high school, or CMC’s generosity, my family and I would have never been able to fund an exchange program or an extended trip overseas.”
But Hoey also took advantage of foreign study opportunities because he values the type of self-growth and introspection that comes from immersing oneself in an environment and culture that are unfamiliar. “It forces an individual to adapt and grow,” he says. “Every moment and experience is a learning opportunity, and my times abroad have given me a good sense of humor and the ability to really reflect on my own strength and values.
“Ultimately, I believe that I’m drawn to Foreign Service work and study abroad because I also love making meaningful connections with other individuals. There is nothing more fulfilling to me than being able to free oneself of pretense and ego, and really connect with other people and other cultures on a human level. While diplomacy is inherently about international politics and policy, for me diplomacy is also about strengthening bonds and understanding with other peoples and unearthing the commonalities which exist between all cultures and societies.”
According to Hoey, CMC has played an enormous role in helping him reach this point in his scholarly career. “Firstly, I would never have been able to study abroad during college or work these past couple of summers away from home without the generosity of CMC’s donors,” he says. “I took Honors IR [International Relations] my freshman year and it really had a profound impact on me, in the sense that I was introduced to theory and really began to think critically about IR.”
Hoey cites Professor Jennifer Taw, who continues to be a great mentor and friend, as well as Professor Roderic Camp, who advised him throughout the application process and also taught a course on Religion and Politics in Latin America, which helped frame Hoey’s time in Brazil and inspired him to specialize in Latin America and Lusophone countries.
“I took Intro to Philosophy with Professor [Christopher] Nadon and a course on Abraham Lincoln,” Hoey says. “Intro to Philosophy changed the way I think, and it gave me an even deeper appreciation for learning and critical thinking. In particular, my conversations with Nadon and the material we covered in class helped me develop my own sense of civic responsibility and duty, which played a major role in my decision to apply for the Pickering.”
After graduation, next summer, Hoey will intern with the State Department in Washington, D.C. “I hope to defer for a year and apply for a Fulbright,” he says. “I will enroll in graduate school, and the summer in between my first and second year, I will serve as an intern at a U.S. Embassy. Upon graduating, I will take the Foreign Service Officer exam and join the Foreign Service for a minimum of five years. Then, I hope to serve as a Political or Public Diplomacy Officer.”
If, as he hopes, Hoey wins a Fulbright Scholarship, he could again see himself back in Brazil. “I’d love to continue practicing my Portuguese and continue learning more about my heritage,” Hoey says. “Ideally, I’d love to attend Columbia or Princeton for grad school, since they both have very strong IR programs and departments that focus on Lusophone countries.”