Ashley Hamilton (GHD’2020) is one of ten recipients awarded the Payne Fellowship in 2018.
Michigan native Ashley Hamilton is a second year in the GHD program. A recipient of the Payne Fellowship, she is passionate about international development and specializes on refugees and humanitarian crises. The Payne Fellowship Program provides funding of up to $48,000 annually for a two-year program and includes tuition, room and board, and housing and transportation for summer internship. The Payne Fellowship Program also involves mentorship, professional development, and provides a unique pathway to a career as Foreign Service Officers with the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Hometown: Flint, Michigan
Certificate or Concentration/Area of Focus: Refugees and Humanitarian Crises
Brazil- Social Justice and Sustainable Development
Portugal- Cultural Immersion
Mozambique- Peace Corps
Malawi- USAID Internship
Career Goals: Foreign Service Officer, Social Entrepreneur
Summer Internship: USAID- Lilongwe, Malawi. Completed the Gender Analysis for the Malawi Country Development Cooperative Strategy
Capstone: Working with MCC on blended finance
1. What was the application process like for the Payne fellowship? Did you go through the fellowship process before grad school applications were due or simultaneously?
Applying for the Payne Fellowship was a rigorous process, as I did apply for the fellowship and my graduate program at the same time. I learned of the fellowship rather late in the application period, so I only had a few weeks to pull everything together before the deadlines. I found that having other people look over my essays helped me prepare a successful application. Also, instead of stressing over concerns that others might have had more international experience than me, I focused on highlighting the experiences I did have and emphasizing how they could be useful for a career in the foreign service.
2. Do you have any advice for those thinking of applying for the Payne fellowship?
For anyone still on the fence about applying for the Payne Fellowship: Do it! As a 2018 fellow, this program has already provided me with so much exposure and experience in my field. The fellowship has given me access to a network of phenomenal individuals, and has been a tremendous help in easing my mind about post-graduate employment. The Payne Fellowship staff is very supportive and serves as a great resource if you have questions or concerns about the application process.
3. Tell us a little more about the Payne fellowship. How has it impacted your studies at Georgetown? What are the benefits of the fellowship?
The Payne Fellowship was established in honor of Congressman Donald Payne of New Jersey. Congressman Payne was a strong advocate of the United States’ best values. He fought for human rights and dignity globally. He championed the fight for quality, affordable education stateside. Congressman Payne was a driving force for good, and the Payne Fellowship, in a way, helps to keep his legacy alive.
The Payne Fellowship, much like the Rangel and Pickering Fellowships, is a pathway into the Foreign Service. However, Payne is unique in that it provides a pathway into USAID– the United States Agency for International Development. The fellowship has the express interest of diversifying the foreign service by prioritizing candidates from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds.
Some of the benefits of the fellowship include mentorship from senior foreign service personnel, a Congressional internship, an international internship (at a USAID mission abroad), and guaranteed employment with the agency upon satisfactory completion of the program requirements.
Graduate school is already a challenging experience so, for me, not having to expend extra energy on job hunting has been so helpful. Additionally, the fellowship program requirements largely align with the GHD requirements, so the summer internship component was already arranged and financed for me, which also helped alleviate stress.
4. Why did you choose GHD?
I chose GHD because I wanted to complement my qualitative skills with solid quantitative skills to help me become a well-rounded development practitioner. GHD was an overall perfect fit for me. Not only is GHD one of the best-ranked development programs, the location and small cohort sizes were also important determining factors.
5. What has your experience at GHD been like so far?
My experience in GHD has been challenging, but enlightening. Because I came in with limited experience in economics and econometrics, I have learned so much in a very short amount of time. I have also had the opportunity to study development in Haiti through an exchange program with George Mason. Furthermore, I had the opportunity to conduct research with the Africa Society on the use of rape as a weapon of war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
6. What is one memory or story that stands out to you from your time here at GHD?
Each year, the first year students in GHD participate in an off-site ethics retreat to discuss the ethical implications and dilemmas of the development field. The ethics retreat is easily one of my fondest memories of my time here in GHD. It was at the ethics retreat that I was able to really bond with my colleagues, and get to know them on a personal level. I think the ethics retreat is just one example of how special GHD is, and it made me even more grateful for the amazing people alongside whom I have the opportunity to study.
7. How do you think GHD and/or the Payne fellowship has helped/will help you with your career?
GHD and the Payne Fellowship have been incredible sources of support for career growth. The faculty within GHD is amazing– beyond their concentration of knowledge, I can tell that the staff members genuinely care about me as an individual. Having access to such knowledgeable experts in the field has been helpful for gaining exposure to various opportunities. Additionally, the curriculum has challenged some of the beliefs I held coming in to the program.
The Payne Fellowship has been the most amazing vehicle for mobilizing the skills I’m learning in GHD. This summer, I interned at the USAID mission in Malawi, where I had the opportunity to apply concepts I learned in GHD like harnessing the demographic dividend, and regression analyses. I suspect that the skills and concepts that I am mastering between the two programs will help me to become a successful Foreign Service Officer.
8. Anything else you’d like to add?
Happy to answer any other questions about the Payne Fellowship that applicants may have. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
For more information on the Payne Fellowship, please visit their website. Note that the upcoming deadline is November 1st!