Photo_AmsAfter completing a JSI fellowship, many PPIA alumni go on to become successful candidates for prestigious national scholarships. These awards include the Marshall Scholarship, which finances intellectually distinguished young Americans to study for a degree in the United Kingdom. Up to forty talented scholars are selected each year to study at the graduate level at an UK institution in any field of study.

PPIA is proud to announce that Shama Ams, a member of the 2013 JSI cohort, has been awarded a two-year Marshall Scholarship. In the following interview, he shares insight into the application process and highlights the key role that PPIA played in helping him achieve success.

Can you discuss why you applied for the Marshall Scholarship?

I applied for the Marshall Scholarship because this opportunity represented the culmination of not only my interest in diplomatic service, but also of my continued research on public health institutions in the developing world. The Marshall Commission was established by British Parliament to commemorate U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall’s plan for European economic development. Therefore, the culture, mission, and goals of the Marshall Commission seemed to align with my desired career path.

You’ll be studying at The School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. What exactly will your studies entail?

Through the MPhil in International Development, I hope to expand my comparative research exploring the relationships between poverty and HIV/AIDS infection risk in urban environments during year one, and to hone my skills by joining Dr. Jennings’s Development Policy, Aid, Institutions, and Poverty Reduction Research Cluster during year two. My research proposes to analyze the relationship between the practices of public health institutions and the prevention and treatment of AIDS and HIV in Sub Saharan Africa. In particular, I hope to expand on prior research that had focused on a comparative of Lagos, Nigeria, Johannesburg, South Africa, and New York City, by incorporating Dakar, Senegal as a fourth case.

You have previously been selected to participate in the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship Program. Will your decision to study in the UK conflict with Pickering program requirements?

No. I have maintained communication with the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, which has been tremendously supportive and helpful throughout my Marshall Scholarship application process. As a result, I will remain on track for my Pickering internships and training for entering Foreign Service, even as I complete my research degree.

You completed your PPIA JSI at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. How did this experience prepare you for your Marshall Scholarship application?

The experience at the Woodrow Wilson School was critical to my successful applications for both the Pickering Fellowship and the Marshall Scholarship. JSI’s preparation worked on two levels. First, JSI teaches time management like no other program. To maximize the experience at JSI, one must quickly learn to structure a schedule and plan every hour of everyday. These skills helped a great deal during my fall semester 2013, when I was able to balance the usual schoolwork and extracurricular activities with late nights completing seventh and eighth drafts of personal statements, without ever feeling overwhelmed. Second, JSI teaches attention to detail like nothing else. The International Relations Policy Workshop, in particular, stressed clear and concise written and oral communication. Clear and concise communication unlocks the doors to an outstanding essay, which, in turn, unlocks the doors to an outstanding application.

Any last thoughts?

PPIA JSI is an opportunity that teaches you skills and connects you to a network that will stay with you for the rest of your life. That is why I am forever grateful to have had the opportunity to experience JSI with my cohort last summer.

For information on how to apply for a Marshall Scholarship, visit the program’s website: