The Frasure-Kruzel-Drew Memorial Fellowship Experience

Fellowship Experience collage

Since 1999, the U.S. DoS Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA) and the Center for International Stabilization and Recovery (CISR) have selected 28 outstanding individuals as Frasure-Kruzel-Drew Memorial (FKD) Fellows. Past FKD Fellows now work for international NGOs, the U.S. Department of State, universities, the United Nations, and more. Read below to find out more about past FKD Fellows’ experiences and what the opportunity meant to them:

Liz Wilson (2015–17)

When I graduated from James Madison University with a Master in Public Administration degree in 2015, I had no idea that the next year-and-a-half of my life would bring the excitement, challenges, and unique experiences I had as the Frasure-Kruzel-Drew (FKD) Memorial Fellow. During the fellowship, I supported the overall mission of the Department of State’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA), and knew that my work contributed to improving lives around the world. I was drawn to the tangible impact that PM/WRA-supported programs made all the way from Bosnia and Herzegovina to Burkina Faso. My time as a FKD Fellow has truly been an experience I will remember for the rest of my life.

Liz Wilson pullquoteThe number of opportunities I had while in PM/WRA has helped shape me into the young professional I am today. During the fellowship, I traveled to Sweden, Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, Switzerland, Belgium, and Germany; and each trip was different from the others. For example, I was responsible for ensuring that U.S. Department of State-funded conventional weapons destruction programs ran effectively in Senegal. In order to do so I met with an international NGO and visited a landmine removal site in the Casamance. On another trip, I represented the U.S. Government at a Sahel Donor Coordination Conference at the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin, Germany. The responsibilities and experiences I had while in the fellowship went beyond what I had anticipated, and I learned so much throughout the entire process.

Beyond the unique travel opportunities the FKD Memorial Fellowship provides, the professional development skills you gain through working in an office that manages over $150 million a year in foreign assistance are unparalleled. I learned about the various funding mechanisms the federal government uses, how they work, and how to effectively oversee two regional portfolios, all the while learning how to facilitate meetings and discussions in a professional environment. The skills you gain as the Frasure-Kruzel-Drew Memorial Fellow can be applied to any position in a federal, nonprofit, foundation, or university setting, and is an incredible position whether you are graduating from undergrad or graduate school. I am so thankful for this opportunity, and hope to carry the skills I have gained during the fellowship on to my next adventure.

Click here to read more about Liz’s experiences traveling as the FKD fellow.

Brenna Matlock (2014–15)

When I applied to be a JMU Frasure-Kruzel-Drew Memorial Fellow at the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA), I had high expectations about the program. Now that I’ve completed my Fellowship, I can say the experience surpassed my expectations, and I could not have asked for a better professional development opportunity right after graduating.  PM/WRA’s mission is to reduce the harmful worldwide effects of at-risk, illicitly proliferated, and indiscriminately used conventional weapons of war.  I worked with the Program Management team to implement and develop programs that covered a wide range of activities including the clearance of minefields, securing or destroying abandoned or excess munitions stockpiles, and educating vulnerable populations. 

Brenna Feigleson pullquoteDuring my time as Fellow, I supported the implementation of programs in Central Asia, Africa and the Middle East. I traveled to London and Dubai to meet face-to-face with the wider conventional weapons destruction community to address challenges and future planning in the regions in which we work. In the senior program managers I found mentors who actively encouraged and assisted with my professional development, and through their guidance my skills sets grew exponentially. The Fellowship had many rewarding moments including the time the U.S. Department of State posted my articles on its official blog and Facebook page. Having this intensive, real-world experience has prepared me for a continued career in the international field and solidified my commitment to post-conflict issues around the world.

Although the work is challenging and fast-paced, I enjoyed the fact that every day was different from the last and there are always exciting things going on in the office and more broadly in the Department of State. Located in Washington D.C., it is easy to immerse yourself in the international community and develop a strong network. The proximity allowed me to attend events that brought together prominent scholars, humanitarians and entrepreneurs where I could learn and enhance my understanding on various topics. Looking back at the accomplishments of formers Fellows, I realized the Fellowship is what you make of it and the possibilities are numerous. It is with great pride that I call myself a former Frasure-Kruzel-Drew Memorial Fellow, and I take these experiences with me as I move on to the next step in my career.

Chris Murguia (2013–14)

I was the 2013–14 Frasure-Kruzel-Drew Memorial Fellow at the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the Bureau of Political Military Affairs (PM/WRA). I first learned about this one of a kind Fellowship opportunity while working as an Editorial Assistant at James Madison University’s Center for International Stabilization and Recovery. I decided to apply to the Fellowship because it offered the opportunity to work on complex and exciting foreign policy issues regarding conventional weapons destruction (CWD), including humanitarian mine action and small arms and light weapons (SA/LW) destruction. Moreover, as a recent college graduate interested in international relations, I knew that working at the U.S. Department of State would provide a professional development opportunity like no other. 

Chris Murguia pullquote

Upon entering the Fellowship, I was placed in PM/WRA’s Resource Management (RM) division. The RM division is responsible for planning and developing the office’s budgets, managing its finances, and, in fiscal year 2013, awarding approximately $142 million in grants, cooperative agreements, and contracts to support CWD projects across the globe. During my time with RM, I received an in-depth education about the federal budget process, federal grants management, grants processing, and financial management.

In addition to serving in the RM division, I also assisted the PM/WRA program management division. Specifically, I was tasked with assisting the program managers for our Africa and Western Hemisphere Affairs portfolios. The highlight of my time in the program management division was when I participated in a program review visit to Colombia, El Salvador, and Honduras. During the trip, I was able to observe demining operations in Colombia, a weapons depot construction project in El Salvador, and SA/LW destruction in Honduras. This trip allowed me to witness firsthand the lifesaving work that PM/WRA’s implementing partners conduct.

My time as a Fellow was one of the best professional development experiences I have had, and I am proud to call myself a former Frasure-Kruzel-Drew Memorial Fellow. Although my time as a Fellow has ended, I have been lucky enough to continue working in PM/WRA as a Program Analyst. I encourage all who are interested in working at the U.S. Department of State or CWD to apply for this great Fellowship opportunity. 

Kate McFarland (2010–11)

Kate pullquoteI could not have asked for a more rewarding or challenging experience after graduating from James Madison University! The Frasure, Kruzel, Drew Memorial HD Fellowship was an amazing opportunity to learn about international policy and domestic politics in a professional environment. As Fellow, I represented the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement as a speaker at universities, Embassies, conferences, and public-sector events. I was able to travel to Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, and to share my stories on the Department of State blog. My most exciting accomplishment was organizing and managing a budget for a multi-million dollar program during a tight fiscal year. The Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement fosters an environment for young professionals to learn and grow, and I am proud to say that I am a product of the Fellowship experience. Thank you JMU and DoS for allowing an eager student to become a contributing adult.

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