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Meet our inaugural foreign service award winner

January 8, 2019

Maya Sullivan_photo by Maya Sullivan

Maya Sullivan, a double major in international studies and economics, is the first winner of the Donald C. and Margery S. Hellmann Scholar award. An annual stipend award, it is designed to support Jackson School students who are interested in pursuing a career in the international arena. The gift is part of a larger endowment made in 2017 for the Donald C. Hellmann Task Force Program.

Q: How did you decide to major in International Studies?
I changed my major four times before settling on the Jackson School! I finally settled on this major because I knew I wanted to make a positive change in the world by engaging with different cultures for a common purpose, be it peace, security, energy, or humanitarian aid. Through the Jackson School, pursuing any of these tracks were open doors.

Q: What is your ideal career, from your viewpoint as a rising senior?
Sullivan: As a rising senior, I know I would like to return to school in a couple of years to pursue a Master’s degree (perhaps in Middle East studies?). I hope to conduct research at a security or conflict-related think tank in DC. Near the end of earning my degree, I intend to apply for the Foreign Service.  

Q: Tell us your reaction on becoming the inaugural recipient of the Donald C. and Margery S. Hellmann Scholar award.
Sullivan: I am incredibly honored and humbled to be the inaugural Hellmann Scholar. I accredit my acceptance of this award entirely to my professors and peers in the Jackson School for helping me develop and hone my passion for international studies, and supporting me throughout my time at the UW.

Q: What will you do as a Hellmann Scholar?
Sullivan: I hope to apply the award funding to heighten my involvement in the international community. It helped fund my Public Diplomacy Internship with the U.S. State Department at Embassy Dakar this past summer in Senegal. It gave me the opportunity to experience first-hand what serving the diplomacy through the Foreign Service could look like in my future. It also helps fund my geopolitical and Arabic studies in Amman for autumn quarter 2018, where I will also spend my last four weeks interning with a Jordanian strategic intelligence company.

Q: Tell us how you think this will help in your career path.
Sullivan: I believe that both experiences directly build insight and skills for my career path because my internship with the State Department confirmed my desire to join the Foreign Service and devote my life to international diplomacy, while learning Arabic and gaining an Arabic perspective on the geopolitics of the Middle East widen my opportunities for a regional focus for my graduate studies.

Q: What advice do you have for prospective Jackson School students?
Sullivan: The faculty and staff at the Jackson School offer an extremely rich background and network, and they are all so eager to help students out however then can! Take the time to chat with them, get to know them professionally and personally, and ask them for advice. Don’t hesitate to ask for help – the worst you can get is an apologetic no. The professors at the Jackson School have enriched my UW experience tenfold, and I cannot thank them enough.

Q: What is your favorite quote?
Sullivan: “Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.” – J.K. Rowling

Sullivan, who grew up in Redmond, Washington, speaks French and Japanese, and is learning Arabic.  In her time at the Jackson School, she has also received a Leslianne Shedd Memorial Internship Fund award and a Jackson-Fosdick Memorial Internship Fund scholarship, both of which supported internships overseas. She is expected to graduate in June 2019.

Learn more about our offer of fellowships and scholarships for global internships, language-learning and more by following this link.