Teresa Fergerson

2003 Rangel Scholar
Foreign Service Officer

On September 11, 2001, most high school students were in class when they heard the news of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centers. Teresa was one of those students, but in France. As an exchange student in Marseille, Teresa was completely immersed in the French culture and had the opportunity to see firsthand how her French peers and other exchange students reacted to the tragedy. Learning how differently people around the globe view the United States opened her eyes to a career in international affairs.

As a Rangel Scholar, Teresa became exposed to a plethora of internship and career options to pursue her interest in international affairs. She followed up on many of these opportunities, including through doing internships with the Department of State and an academic year abroad as a National Security Education Program Scholar at Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan.

With her wide range of international experience, she decided to pursue a career as a diplomat in the U.S. Foreign Service. Already part of the Rangel Program, she applied for and won a 2006 Rangel Graduate Fellowship, which helped finance her Master of Arts in International Relations at Yale University. Through the Rangel Fellowship, she also did internships on Capitol Hill working for Congressman Donald Payne and at the U.S. Consulate General in Osaka, Japan. “Learning first hand how government works was the exact practical experience that I needed in order to get the most out of my graduate studies,” she said.

Those short six weeks as a Rangel Scholar allowed her to find out more about the Rangel Graduate Fellowship, which she said gave her the ability and skill needed to balance and connect her academic work with professional work. “The Rangel Program provides a structured format that will help you gain the skills and experience that you need to be an effective Foreign Service Officer,” she said.

Teresa, who earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Japanese Studies from Dillard University, now works at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, DC, following assignment in Manila and Seoul. A gifted linguist, she speaks French, Japanese and Korean.

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