Carnegie Mellon University
February 14, 2024

Alum Joshua Pinckney Picked as Pickering Fellow

By Stefanie Johndrow

Since graduating from Carnegie Mellon University in 2021, Joshua Pinckney has been busy.

Pinckney, who earned undergraduate degrees from the Department of Modern Languages in Hispanic Studies and the Carnegie Mellon Institute of Strategy and Technology in International Relations and Politics, spent two years post-graduation working at Accenture as a senior analyst in technology strategy, consulting with clients in the health sector. In August 2023, Pinckney paused his role at Accenture to travel to Madrid, Spain, and work as an English teaching assistant through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.

In late fall 2023, Pinckney was balancing the first few months of his Fulbright grant responsibilities with a rigorous application and interview process for the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Graduate Fellowship Program. Funded by the U.S. Department of State and administered by Howard University, the program attracts and prepares outstanding young people for foreign service careers in the U.S. Department of State.

“The Pickering Fellowship embraces diversity through selecting cohorts comprised of individuals from unique and underrepresented backgrounds, as we are the ‘face’ of the United States when serving around the world. I feel like my work within the athletics department to stand up various efforts around inclusive excellence highlights my early and sustained recognition that minorities at our U.S.-based institution are actually in the global majority,” said Pinckney, who played on the men’s tennis team while at CMU. “Therein lies the importance of DEI to educate our community on how to tactfully navigate relationships across cultural differences.”

The fellowship entails funding for a two-year, U.S.-based master’s degree program. Pinckney was admitted to The Fletcher Graduate School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University during his senior year at CMU, but deferred his enrollment until fall 2023. After his first year of graduate school, Pinckney will intern in the Department of State, hoping to be placed in the Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy.

After finishing his graduate studies, Pinckney has an additional internship waiting for him in a U.S. Embassy overseas. 

Pinckney, along with the other Pickering Fellows, has a five-year minimum commitment to the foreign service. Foreign service officers serve in five different areas: consular affairs; management; economic; political; or public diplomacy. 

“With Dietrich College being home to a large number of majors, I was able to take classes that interested me,” Pinckney said. “That interdisciplinary approach allowed me to consistently challenge and complicate the view that I started to form of the world. It allowed me to leave with informed questions and gave me the confidence to dive into the intersection of fields such
as climate science, health, technology and linguistics. I’m looking forward to a similarly dynamic career in diplomacy.” 

As a student, Pinckney was engaged on campus in a variety of roles. He was honored twice as one of the top student-athletes at CMU at the Student Athlete Academic Achievement Celebration, co-founded the Black and Latinx Athlete Coalition and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest honors society, where he also worked as a writing intern. 

"From his athletics to his research to his work with Plaidvocates and as an RA and CA, Josh has always fully lived his values of inclusivity, diplomacy and servant leadership,” said Richelle Bernazolli, director of the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholar Development and someone Pinckney said positively impacted his CMU experience. “It makes me immensely proud that he has continued in this vein as a Fulbright grantee to Spain, and will now do so as a Pickering Fellow and foreign service officer. I can think of no one better suited to the crucial work of U.S. diplomacy abroad, and I look forward to following his career."