After graduating from Cornell University, working for the government was the last thing on Brandon Jackson’s mind. Yet while serving as a Fulbright Scholar in Korea, a Foreign Service Officer gave a talk about the U.S. Foreign Service that changed his life forever.“The Foreign Service is the career that I always dreamed of but never really knew existed,” Brandon said. “The work is exciting and rewarding – with endless possibilities to make a difference in people’s lives.”
Now, as a Foreign Service Officer (FSO) , Brandon looks back on his path that led him to the Foreign Service and to the Rangel Program. After seeing the connection between his commitment to service and learning about the Foreign Service, becoming an FSO became his top priority. For Brandon, the Rangel Program was a great resource for finding out what life is like in the Foreign Service, as well as the role that both the State Department and Congress play in foreign policy.
As a Rangel Fellow, Brandon did a congressional internship in Washington and attended Georgetown University. In addition, his overseas internship in Taiwan between his first and second years of graduate school made a significant impact on him. “My internship allowed me to work on issues of great importance to Washington, such as the “Trafficking in Persons” report and the 2008 Taiwanese presidential and legislative elections.” He visited a detention center for human traffickers and met with Taiwan officials responsible for revising the laws. “Knowing that I was part of the process that would eventually change how the government treated the very women I saw in that detention center had a profound impact on me,” he said. After this experience, Brandon concluded that he made the right career choice. Returning with one more year of graduate school at Georgetown University, he was able to apply the lessons he learned to his studies and to his future career in the Foreign Service. Brandon served in Sheyang, China for his first tour, followed by an assignment at the United Nations and one working as a Political Officer in Johannesburg, South Africa. He is currently a Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Mission to the African Union in Addis Ababa.
In addition to his overseas internship, Brandon’s most valued aspect of the Rangel Program were his mentors. “I am a much more critical thinker, detailed planner and competent professional because of the mentoring relationships,” he said. “I would totally recommend this program to anyone who is interested in growing both personally and professionally in a tailored program that helps one to develop the necessary skills to succeed.”