Skip to Content
Student earns State Department fellowship en route to foreign service career

Student earns State Department fellowship en route to foreign service career

December 20, 2023 at 9:24am

Francisco “Frank” Gamez, a political science major, was born in Caracas, Venezuela and grew up in the cultural melting pot that is Miami. But it was a professional stint in Switzerland that fixed his resolve to become a diplomat – which led to a move to Washington, D.C., internships in the federal government and the recent awarding of a prestigious fellowship for those planning to enter the Foreign Service.

Gamez was recently selected for the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship Program. As a Pickering Fellow, he will receive an award of $42,000 annually for a two-year master’s degree program, two summer internships with the U.S. Department of State – one domestic and one abroad at a U.S. embassy or consulate – and entry into the U.S. Foreign Service. He is one of 45 students selected nationally for this prestigious scholarship, which attracts hundreds of applicants every year.

“The Green School congratulates Frank on this huge accomplishment,” said Shlomi Dinar, dean of the Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs. “The excellence and vision of students like Frank, who are becoming the leaders of tomorrow, exemplify the mission of the Green School.”

A first-generation student, Gamez initially entered FIU in 2012, but left after two semesters to enter the workforce. In 2017-18, his career took him to the Kandersteg International Scout Centre in the Swiss Alps – the home of the World Scouting movement. He is an Eagle Scout who has been involved in Scouting from an early age and was always interested in learning about other cultures and countries.

“When I first entered FIU, I was always interested in pursuing a career in diplomacy,” Gamez said. “I always knew I wanted to do public service…what sealed the deal was living abroad, it took my global perspectives to the next level. It made me understand that Scouting is a world movement, and at the World Scout Centre (at Kandersteg) I represented the United States. As a diplomat, I look forward to representing American values and traditions abroad.”

Gamez excelled when he returned to FIU in 2022 – as an Honors College student and earning Dean’s List recognition every semester. This year, he was named a Hamilton Scholar, an opportunity for Honors College students to receive a scholarship and a paid internship in Washington, D.C. He has remained in the nation’s capital ever since. 

The move was transformational and led to a string of positions that nurtured his path toward his goal. He served as governmental relations fellow for FIU and worked in several federal agencies: program support intern for the General Services Administration; intern at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, providing support to human resources staff; and intern at U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs.

Over the years, he has also balanced his academic and professional pursuits with volunteering for several organizations. He was an FIU student ambassador; chair of the City of Doral’s Environmental Advisory Board; volunteer at the Rotary Club of Washington, D.C.; executive board member of the South Florida Council, Boy Scouts of America; and member of the FBI Citizens Academy Alumni Association Washington, D.C. Chapter.

“I love volunteering in my spare time, my parents always taught me to give back,” Gamez explains. “In an era where people have been isolated, I feel that one of the things that keeps me resilient is giving back. It keeps your soul alive.”

With graduation approaching this spring, Gamez credits the “great learning curriculum” – which included his studies for certificates in National Security Studies and Latin American and Caribbean Studies – and several FIU units and individuals who helped him succeed: the Honors College and Dean Juan Carlos Espinosa; the Gordon Institute faculty and mentors; the FIU in DC team who provided “a home away from home;” the FIU Adam Smith Center; and the FIU Online team and its coaches.

Gamez is in the process of selecting a graduate school to attend following graduation, and he’s eager to take on his next challenges both in academia and in a new role as a Foreign Service Officer.

“I look forward to being posted in a country I’m not familiar with, and learning a language I’m not familiar with,” Gamez said. “I love learning new skills and facing challenges to overcome.”

                                    *                                   *                                   *

Students interested in top national scholarships and fellowships, should visit the FIU Office of Prestigious Scholar Development website or email