Two Colby seniors have won prestigious Fulbright fellowships, which aim to foster cultural and diplomatic exchanges between the United States and the wider world. Chloe Simms ’23 and Angie Sohn ’23 both won Fulbright awards, and Sohn also received a Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Graduate Fellowship funded by the U.S. Department of State.
The two seniors have met the high standards these fellowships demand through a combination of hard work and a commitment to impactful cross-cultural exchange. This dedication has been shaped by their wide-ranging experiences at Colby, both inside and outside of the classroom.
Sohn, a government major with a minor in East Asian studies, is a QuestBridge scholar—a program that connects exceptional first-generation students with partner colleges.
In her Fulbright year, Sohn will travel to Taiwan, where she will take a post as an English teaching assistant. As the child of Korean immigrants, she is eager to represent America’s diversity in East Asia.
“I am really excited about having conversations with my Taiwanese students about their perceptions of America and sharing my own lived experiences as a daughter of immigrants and as a Korean American, which isn’t necessarily what comes to mind when people think about America,” she said.
Sohn’s passion for fostering global dialogue flourished at Colby. Languages fascinate her—in addition to English, she has studied Korean, Chinese, Japanese, and Spanish—and she spent her junior year in South Korea, an experience made possible by the Gilman Scholarship, also supported by the State Department. “One of my most formative experiences was receiving scholarships to study abroad,” she said.
With a previous summer internship at the State Department’s headquarters behind her, Sohn’s ultimate goal is a career in diplomacy. An additional grant, the Pickering Fellowship, has transformed this ambition into a reality.
The highly competitive Pickering Fellowship, with a 6-percent acceptance rate, promotes diversity and inclusion in the Foreign Service and funds two years of graduate school. This will enable Sohn to study for a master’s in international relations when she returns from Taiwan. Sohn will then have an opportunity to complete five years of service as a Foreign Service Officer—a diplomat—in an overseas posting.
Although Sohn’s interest in geopolitics runs deep, it is the opportunity to bring people together that most excites her about a career in the State Department.
“The Foreign Service is not just about negotiations,” she said. “It’s also about promoting people-to-people exchanges and forging cross-cultural connections. It’s about recognizing that, at the end of the day, we are part of a larger global ecosystem.”
As the first Pickering Fellow from Colby, Sohn’s aim in the Foreign Service will be “to help promote cultural exchange opportunities, and to increase accessibility for formative global experiences, especially for people of under-served backgrounds. Because I recognize such experiences have had an immense impact on me.”
Simms, who is also a QuestBridge scholar, will graduate with a double major in psychology, with a concentration in neuroscience, and German. In September she will travel to Austria on her Fulbright, where she will teach English in two Viennese high schools.
Studying in Germany during her junior year, Simms cherished her deep conversations with the people around her, who hailed from across the globe. Seeing her country through the eyes of others, she found, enhanced her understanding of American culture.
“I met people from all over the world,” she said. “These interactions allowed me to step back and reflect on what makes our culture unique: the problems we have, as well as the good things.” Wishing to continue where she had left off, she applied to the Fulbright last fall.
She did not expect to win and was applying for jobs in neuroscience research at the same time. “It was a long shot. I did not think that I would get it. Hearing that I had been awarded a Fulbright was very, very exciting news.”
Simms also pays tribute to the ways that Colby has nurtured her passion for intercultural exchange. The College’s support and guidance have helped her achieve Fulbright success.
“Colby has a lot of really unique opportunities that no one in my family had ever had before,” she said. “Studying abroad was my first time outside the U.S. In high school, if you’d asked me if I was ever going to learn German, I would have said, ‘Absolutely not!’ Colby gave me opportunities to discover the things I really love.”
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