When Franklin & Marshall College graduate Paolo Caglioti '21 took the first-year course “In and Out of Africa,” little did he know it was the blueprint for a future in foreign service.
“It was serendipity,” said Caglioti, who currently resides in Cameroon’s capital city of Yaounde as a Fulbright English Teaching fellow. That undergrad course resulted in research on Cameroon and its language conflict, years before his Fulbright appointment.
Caglioti’s globe-trotting path has helped earn him a prestigious selection to The Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Graduate Fellowship Program. The competitive award prepares outstanding young people for foreign service careers in the U.S. Department of State.
“This fellowship offers me a chance to operationalize my cultural skills and writing skills for what I hope is something that can have a direct impact on improving people's lives,” said Caglioti, an anthropology major and French minor at F&M.
As one of the 45 Pickering Fellows selected this year, Caglioti will receive funding toward a master's degree in any subject related to the work of the State Department; a funded summer internship at the State Department; a funded summer internship at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad between the first and second years of graduate school; and entry into the Foreign Service as a Foreign Service Officer.
“I've always liked bridging cultural gaps,” Caglioti said.
Anthropology offered a chance to examine his own identity growing up on the east end of Long Island – a melting pot of affluent “small-towners,” Latin American immigrants and Shinnecock Nation Indigenous tribe members.
“I kind of fell in between that – an eclectic working class family of Greeks and Italians. That came with the privilege of getting to experience things like quinceañeras and fancy cocktail parties,” Caglioti said.
“I built upon that in anthropology at F&M, studying cultural differences. What's it like to be in these spaces? How do we make sense of them and how can we create something and highlight the voices and dignity of people that feel unheard or misrepresented?” he added.
This is the third fellowship Caglioti has won. Upon graduation, he taught English in Corsica with the Teaching Assistant Program in France (TAPIF), in addition to his current Fulbright appointment (Caglioti was also named a Fulbright alternate to Madagascar and Mauritius).
Caglioti’s time in Cameroon offers the unique opportunity to follow in the footsteps of a beloved family member.
“My grandpa was an artist and art professor, and he had a Fulbright in the 1960s in Rome as a sculptor,” Caglioti said.
Serendipity? Yes – but perhaps legacy, too.
Paolo Caglioti '21
- Hometown: Southampton, N.Y.
- Major: Anthropology
- Minor: French
Why did you choose F&M?
The financial aid was great – the package was tremendous, really generous, which was a big factor for me. But I also think just coming to campus and being there and understanding how much F&M values diverse students and the huge international population – being intentional about that mix of people.
The college house system was a really neat idea. The idea of trying to build little communities of learning really spoke to me more than any other school. I felt, ‘This is a place where I can grow that values challenging students intellectually and bringing different perspectives into the classroom together and on campus.’
“I've always liked bridging cultural gaps."
A History of F&M Diplomats
Paolo Caglioti '21 is the College’s third recipient of the Pickering Fellowship. Melissa Sandoval '13 and Maribel Vasquez '09 received the award in 2012.
The Pickering Fellowship is closely related to the Rangel Fellowship, awarded to Sheldon Ruby '17, and the Payne Fellowship, awarded to Taina Perez '20. All three awards seek to diversify the State Department and after graduate school, awardees join the Foreign Service and USAID’s Foreign Service respectively.
F&M Ranked Among Fulbright Award Top Producers
For the fifth consecutive year, the Fulbright U.S. Student Program recognized Franklin & Marshall College among the top producing institutions.Learn More