Currently serving as a Political Officer at U.S. Embassy in Vietnam, Aqueelah credits the Rangel Program with preparing her for life as a diplomat abroad.
“The Rangel Program is a great gift. It has provided me with great structure: two summer internships while in graduate school and a valuable source of friends. Going into the Foreign Service, I have a network of close friends. We have supported each other since grad school, and it feels great to know that we will have each other throughout our careers.” Besides developing “familial ties” with other Rangel Program fellows and staff, she also appreciated the relationships she formed with ambassadors and other senior officials through the program.
Aqueelah first learned about the Foreign Service as a Peace Corps volunteer in Peru where she worked with Foreign Service Officers who were in what she considered an amazing career. “[I] was fascinated by their work, opportunities to travel and interests in policy implementation,” she said. Accepted into the Rangel Program in 2007, Aqueelah was able to pursue a Masters in Foreign Service at Georgetown University. She also as served as an intern in the Office of Representative Donald Payne, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health and in the U.S. Embassy in Panama City, Panama.
Aqueelah and her colleagues formed a particularly strong bond with one another and with the program staff that has remained with them. While Aqueelah attended graduate school in Washington, D.C., where the Rangel Program is based, the 2007 Rangel Fellows were spread throughout the country. But the bonds they formed were strong enough to endure long distances. Now scattered around the globe on everyone’s first assignments, Aqueelah truly appreciates the Rangel Program for providing lifelong mentors, friends and experiences.
This 2003 Rutgers University graduate and 2009 Georgetown University graduate is on the political career track because she “enjoys public service,” she said. “I have a strong interest in human rights and social equality.” With a strong interest in Latin America, where she said income disparities are a major challenge, Aqueelah is hoping to make a difference through her new job and life as a Foreign Service Officer. She is very excited that the foreign service has allowed her to broaden her experiences by serving her first tour in Indonesia, a part of the world that is of great interest to her, and then working on international Security issues in the Bureau of Eropean and Eurasian Affairs.