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ASU student pursuing accelerated master’s degree awarded Pickering Fellowship

ASU student Collin Frank pictured standing and looking at camera in an outdoor setting, dressed in a suit and tie.

Arizona State University student Collin Frank was announced as a recipient of a 2023 Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Graduate Fellowship, awarded by the U.S. Department of State. Photo courtesy Collin Frank

January 23, 2023

Arizona State University student Collin Frank has always been drawn to the idea of working in foreign service. Although he thought the career choice a long shot, he centered his academic and work experience on becoming the best possible applicant.

Last December, he received the news that his hard work would pay off.

Frank was announced as a recipient of a 2023 Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Graduate Fellowship, awarded by the U.S. Department of State. Fellows who successfully complete the program receive appointments as foreign service officers and serve at least five years.

Frank, who graduated from ASU with Bachelor's of Arts in Russian and global studies in May of 2022, is currently pursuing an accelerated master’s degree in political science with the School of Politics and Global Studies.

“I feel well-prepared to enter the foreign service in 2025, as ASU has helped me to develop several of the key 13 dimensions required for foreign service officers,” he said.

A fan of American history, Frank began his academic journey in Massachusetts, majoring in international relations at Boston University. However, between the cost of living and tuition, he started to consider other options. In January of 2019, he decided to transfer to ASU, where he received a scholarship and other support.

“Even though ASU is a large university, the support that I received from my counselors at Barrett and the School of Politics and Global Studies let me integrate quickly,” he said.

Frank declared as a global studies major and found that the interdisciplinary nature of the program allowed him to pursue multiple interests — such as the Russian language.

Through ASU’s Critical Languages Institute (CLI), housed within the Melikian Center for Russian, Eurasian and East European Studies, Frank was able to accelerate his studies and turn his Russian minor into a second major.

“I knew that learning a language is essential for a career in foreign service, and CLI helped me achieve a high level of proficiency in a short period of time,” he said.

At the Melikian Center, Frank began building relationships with faculty, collaborating on translation projects that allowed him to put his Russian skills into practice.

“As director of the Melikian Center and my honors thesis advisor, Dr. Keith Brown was one of the first mentors that I found at ASU,” Frank said. “Dr. Brown encouraged me to enroll in CLI for the first time and introduced me to the network of scholars at the Melikian Center.”

“We are delighted at the Melikian Center, where Collin has been a fellow (working with Candace Rondeaux), taken intensive Russian through the CLI and is currently working alongside his master's studies, after finishing his thesis with Margaret Hanson last year,” said Brown, who also serves as a professor in the School of Politics and Global Studies.

Frank also had the opportunity to work with faculty from the Center on the Future of War, taking a course on international relations and national security threats from retired Air Force Col. Jeff Kubiak, a professor of practice in the School of Politics and Global Studies, that inspired him to pursue a graduate education.

Knowing that internship experience was also critical to a future career in foreign service, Frank applied to intern within the U.S. Department of State. On the sixth try, he received a slot at the department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research.

Interning at the State Department provided Frank a network of mentors with diverse backgrounds. The insights and relationships he gleaned there gave him the confidence to pursue opportunities like the Pickering Fellowship.

And Frank had many supporters at ASU who helped him through the application process, including Hanson and Hilde Hoogenboom, an associate professor of Russian in the School of International Letters and Cultures. They helped Frank polish his essays and build a great application, and The Lorraine W. Frank Office of National Scholarships Advisement (ONSA) assisted in prepping Frank for his interview.

The process was quick. By the end of the week of his interview, the results were released.

“When I received my selection email late Friday night, I was in shock at first,” Frank said. “Very few emails have the capacity to change the next seven years of your life so drastically.”

In addition to receiving the Pickering Fellowship, Frank was also selected as a Colin Powell Leadership Fellow. This Department of State program prepares participants to be future civil service leaders. He was offered a role as a foreign affairs officer in the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation.

Frank credits the abundance of opportunities at ASU, which allowed him to pursue valuable service learning experiences matched with meaningful classwork. He encourages other students to share their goals with their professors.

“I’m incredibly grateful for the professors and mentors who have let me take part in their diverse research experiences — I know that they all have contributed to my academic and professional career,” he said.

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