Pickering fellow Angel Orozco sitting in a classroom, gesturing with his hands while speaking.

Winner of prestigious Pickering Fellowship determined to improve his life through education


Marcia Paterman Brookey

Angel Orozco is paving an outstanding path of academic success, service to the country and financial stability for his future.

“I grew up in a community of color and in a low-income area,” he said. “My mother didn't graduate high school, no one in my family had a college education and my father was in prison when I was young and I was separated from him. I knew that the only way to better my life was to get an education. My family encouraged me, but I knew that no one would help me pay for it.”

That is where hard work, determination and support from Arizona State University’s faculty and advisory staff come in. Orozco was recently selected as one of the 45 recipients of the competitive Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship Program, which will provide him with robust financial support for his graduate studies leading to a career in the U.S. Department of State Foreign Service. 

“This program gives me a chance to reflect greatly upon my family, provide a future for my family and serve my country,” he said, adding that being named a Pickering Fellow is a great honor.

The Pickering Fellowship Program is highly sought after, with over 1,500 applicants nationwide, and Orozco is only the 10th ASU student to ever receive the award. As a 2022 Pickering Fellow, he will receive up to $37,500 annually for tuition and expenses for a two-year master’s degree in fields related to foreign service. He will also have two summer internships — one at a domestic office of the Department of State in Washington, D.C., and one overseas at a U.S. embassy or consulate — and mentoring from a foreign service officer. 

Orozco is pursuing two degrees at ASU — civic and economic thought and leadership, as well as business with a focus on global politics. The successful journey, he says, is a result of his experience as a student in the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership (SCETL).

“Never would I have even known about these opportunities if it wasn’t for the close-knit culture of SCETL,” Orozco said. “The fact that the professors really care and want me to succeed has been one of the most important pieces to my success in this process and my success as a student overall.”

Video of Student Spotlight: Angel Orozco

Video by Vanessa Reynaga

Orozco is following in the footsteps of his SCETL colleague Cameron Vega, who was awarded the fellowship in 2021. With its dedication to teaching classical liberal education, and guided by the principles of the U.S. founders and leaders, the school is able to prepare students with a solid education for public service and leadership roles in civil society. 

“SCETL teaches its students how to be leaders, not just political scientists or anything. It teaches them how to be leaders to help make a better world,” Orozco said. “That level of commitment and pursuit of truth and civic discussion has just been something that I've loved and has brought me here and kept me here. I definitely have enjoyed every day that I've been able to be a part of SCETL and what it has to offer.”

The school combines philosophy, history, economics and political science to examine great ideas and solve contemporary problems. Courses such as "Great Ideas in Politics and Ethics," "Justice and Virtue," "Politics and Literature” and "American Political Economy” prepare students for careers in business, law, public office, philanthropy, engineering and journalism, among other fields.

“Angel is the ideal Pickering Fellow,” said Carol McNamara, associate director for public programs at SCETL. “He is an excellent student and a natural leader, and we take pride in helping him earn the skills and knowledge to prepare for his successful career in the foreign service.” 

Orozco is currently applying for graduate school programs. He will graduate in this spring and begin orientation in June.