Vi Jacobs-Nhan has always wanted to make a difference. Since taking her first political science course as an undergraduate at the University of Washington, she knew she wanted to be part of the solution to the world’s problems, not a critic. “My experience growing up in Vietnam in the 1980s, where I witnessed firsthand the legacy left behind by American foreign policy-makers, provided context to the lectures delivered by my professors,” she said. ”However, every class presented a new set of difficult problems and left me with a sense of ineptness.” With a desire to find strategies to promote positive change, this Chinese-Vietnamese-American was drawn to opportunities to understand how decisions made in Washington could affect those as far away as Vietnam. She decided to stretch her knowledge of the world by studying abroad in Morocco. “Discussing, and at times dispelling, my host family’s notions of the U.S. instilled in me a desire to present the real image of America to the international community,” she said. “I am awed by a chance, through the Foreign Service, to shape America’s foreign policy and humbled by the responsibility to show the world the diversity that is America.”
In her senior year of college, Vi was selected to become a Rangel Fellow and accepted admission to the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). As a Rangel Fellow, she took advantage of being immersed in world of policy-making as an intern on Capitol Hill and explored the congressional role in U.S. foreign policy. She then interned at U.S. Embassy Hanoi where she helped analyze Vietnam’s political dynamics through engagement with U.S. and Vietnamese officials and non government organizations. She graduated with a master’s degree in international relations from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Proficient in Cantonese, Mandarin, and Vietnamese, Vi studied Japanese at the Foreign Service Institute and is now working in the Office of Taiwan coordination in the State Department. Prior to this, she served in U.S. consulate General Shserving in her second post as a U.S. diplomat in Shanghai, China after her first post in Osaka, Japan.
Admiring others Rangel Fellows, Vi values the personal and professional connections she has with her fellow budding diplomats. “The network of fellows, both in my cohort and from other cohorts, provides the support and the resources I rely on countless times,” she said. Offering her time and advice to new Rangel Fellows is also rewarding to Vi, as she sees the value of building strong ties to those around her. Overall, she said that the Rangel Program played a supportive role in her journey to the Foreign Service and achieving her goal to help write a better history for the students of tomorrow.