Mpaza Kapembwa '15 Awarded Pickering Fellowship

Media contact: Noelle Lemoine, communications assistant; tele: (413) 597-4277; email: [email protected]

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., May 19, 2014—Mpaza Kapembwa, a junior at Williams College, has been awarded a Pickering Fellowship. The fellowship provides academic and professional preparation for a career in the U.S. Department of State Foreign Service. Undergraduate fellows receive $40,000 each year for two years, spanning the final year in college and first year of graduate school.

Kapembwa, a Chinese major, was born in Lusaka, Zambia, and moved to the United States in 2006. “Being awarded the Pickering Fellowship is a particular honor because in very few countries could a citizen by naturalization get a chance to represent that country as a diplomat,” he says.

Currently studying abroad in Kunming, China, Kapembwa is honing his skills in a language the State Department considers critical. “Williams Chinese professors Cornelius Kubler and Yu Li always remind me that learning a foreign language is a marathon and not a sprint,” he says. Kapembwa hopes to earn a master’s degree from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, principally because coursework at the program’s center in Nanjing, China, is undertaken in Chinese.

“Since coming to Williams, I’ve known that I want to go into public service,” he says. “As part of the fellowship, I will be paired with a Foreign Service Officer who will guide me as I try to learn more about how the State Department and U.S. Diplomacy work.” Pickering Fellows receive mentoring, professional development, and financial support as they prepare to enter the Foreign Service. Upon successful completion of the Foreign Service examination, Pickering Fellows make a commitment to a minimum of five years of service in an appointment as Foreign Service Officer.

The Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship is named in honor Mr. Pickering, who holds the title of Career Ambassador, the highest title in the U.S. Foreign Service.


Founded in 1793, Williams College is the second-oldest institution of higher learning in Massachusetts. The college’s 2,000 students are taught by a faculty noted for the quality of their teaching and research, and the achievement of academic goals includes active participation of students with faculty in their research. Students’ educational experience is enriched by the residential campus environment in Williamstown, Mass., which provides a host of opportunities for interaction with one another and with faculty beyond the classroom. Admission decisions on U.S. applicants are made regardless of a student’s financial ability, and the college provides grants and other assistance to meet the demonstrated needs of all who are admitted.


Published May 19, 2014