On November 18, the Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellowship Program selection panel chose 30 2017 Rangel Fellows. The 2017 Rangel Fellows reflect the excellence and diversity that have characterized the program since its creation. The current group includes individuals from 15 states, including Maryland (6), Virginia (4), California (2), DC (2), Florida (2), Georgia (2), Texas (2), Massachusetts (2), New Jersey (2), Alabama, Illinois, Kentucky, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. Sixteen are women; fourteen are men.
The 2017 fellows attended 25 different undergraduate institutions throughout the United States that reflect a full range of academic experiences. Work experience includes the Peace Corps, Fulbright Program, teaching, the State Department and other government agencies, non-governmental organizations, international organizations, and business. Their languages include Arabic, Spanish, French, Korean, Russian, Ngmbaye, Hindi, Mandarin, Cantonese, German, Afaan Oromo, Bahasa, Turkish, Amharic, and Dari. They are beinning the process of applying to graduate programs looking at a broad range of international or public policy-related programs in universities around the United States.
The 2017 fellows will begin the Rangel program in May 2017 with an orientation and congressional internship, followed by two years of graduate work and internships overseas at U.S. embassies. They will enter the Foreign Service in 2019. While each brings a wide array of talents and skills to the program, below are some highlights regarding the 30 fellows.
Eunice Ajayi, originally from Maryland, graduated in 2016 from Rutgers University with a BA in English and a double minor in Political Science and Korean. In college, Eunice travelled to Spain, France, and the Dominican Republic and studied at Ewha Women’s University in Seoul. Eunice served as a Global Ambassador at Rutgers and has interned with Georgetown University Law Center, the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA), and World Learning.
Rami Blair, a native of Maine by way of Washington, DC, is a 2016-2017 Fulbright Scholar at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago. A graduate of Morehouse College, he studied French and English with an emphasis on Caribbean literatures and cultures. Rami has interned at the U.S. Embassy in Barbados and spent a semester at the University of Nottingham (UK) as an ESU Luard Morse Scholar. He is fluent in French and a recipient of the 2015 Beinecke Scholarship.
Miguel Boluda, originally from Bowie, Maryland, graduated from Stanford University in 2014 with a BA in international relations. With an interest in human rights in Russia and Central Asia, he studied abroad in Moscow and later interned at U.S. Embassy Moscow. Since graduating, he has worked at the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund and for Senator Barbara Boxer. Miguel’s languages include Spanish and Russian.
Eduardo Castillo, a native of Laredo, Texas, graduated from Texas A&M International University in 2014 with a BA in English and a psychology minor. In college he interned through the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities as a Spanish language liaison and travelled to over 10 countries. After graduating, Eduardo worked as an English language instructor and youth development specialist in China. He speaks Spanish and Mandarin.
Veronica Chiu, originally from Honolulu, Hawaii, received her BA in international studies and East-Asian studies in 2011 from Johns Hopkins University. She has worked at the Council on Foreign Relations for the past four years and serves as associate director of CFR’s Independent Task Force Program, which convenes high-level working groups to offer guidance to U.S. policymakers on critical foreign policy issues. Veronica’s languages include Mandarin, Cantonese, and some Spanish.
Anthony Cyprian Christian, originally from Harlem, will graduate in 2017 from George Washington University with a double major in Economics and Arabic Studies. He studied abroad in the United Arab Emirates and interned with the U.S. Foreign Commercial Service in Dubai. He studied Arabic with Boren, Gilman, and Critical Language Scholarships. He then interned in the Educational and Cultural Affairs Bureau with the U.S. Foreign Service Internship Program.
Saumya Deva, from Los Angeles, graduated in 2013 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a BA in International Studies and Latin American studies and a certificate in gender and women’s studies. She interned in the State Department’s Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor and served in the Peace Corps in Togo for two years. She has extended for a third year to serve as a gender adviser in Togo. She speaks fluent French, Spanish, and basic Hindi.
Jacob Dietrich, from La Grange, Kentucky, graduated from the University of North Georgia in 2015 with a BA in Arabic language and literature. He studied abroad in Fez, Morocco and Muscat, Oman. Jacob is currently completing a Fulbright Research Fellowship working with the Supreme Council for Planning in the Omani government. Jacob was an active student leader as an undergraduate and is proficient in Arabic.
Surayya Diggs, from Harlem, New York, will graduate from Cornell University in 2017 with a BS in international agriculture and rural development and a minor in applied economics. Surayya completed community development-oriented internships in China and Cameroon and studied abroad in Geneva, where she researched the 2015 Greek Debt Crisis. She participated in the Public Policy International Affairs (PPIA) Summer Institute at Princeton and speaks French.
Tanya Donangmaye, originally from Falls Church, Virginia, graduated in 2015 from George Mason University, earning her BA in global affairs with a concentration in international development. She has served in the Office of the African Union Mission to the UN, the DC Mayor’s Office on African Affairs, and for Congresswoman Barbara Lee. She is currently doing a Fulbright Teaching grant in Korea. She speaks French, Ngmbaye, and Korean.
Tailor Dortona graduated in 2016 from American University with a BA in justice, law, and criminology. Tailor currently works for the State Department’s Special Advisor for International Disability Rights. Previously, she studied in China, interned at the Chengdu Disabled Person Federation, conducted research on Chinese disability employment policy, and worked for the U.S. Navy. She is proficient in Spanish, Mandarin, and American Sign Language.
Sydney Freeman, originally from West Orange, New Jersey, will graduate from the University Richmond in 2017 with a BA in political science and healthcare. Sydney has interned for State Senator Richard Codey, Congressman Donald Payne Jr., and First Lady Michelle Obama. Sydney’s languages include Spanish and Turkish.
Katie Garay will graduate from George Mason University in 2017 with a BA in government and international politics. She has previously served as an intern for the Virtual Student Foreign Service and the Political Section of U.S. Embassy Panama City. She was a PPIA Fellow at the University of Michigan. Katie is an active student leader, including serving as the president of the Hispanic Student Association and president of the Mason Ambassadors.
Manuela Hernandez, born in Medellin, Colombia and raised in Florida, graduated in 2016 from the University of Florida with a BA in economics and international studies with a concentration on Europe. She interned in the Florida legislature and the U.S. Consulate in Dusseldorf, Germany. Manuela has studied abroad in Paris, Magdeburg, and Medellin. She lives in Munich and works for a nonprofit organization. Manuela speaks Spanish, English, German, and French.
Matthew Hinson, originally from Princeton, New Jersey, will graduate from Georgetown University in 2017 with a BS in international history concentrating in religion and violence in the modern Middle East, and a minor in philosophy. He has interned with the Clinton Foundation, Cultural Heritage Imaging and the Library of Congress. He studied abroad in Rabat, Morocco and at the Oxford Consortium for Human Rights in the United Kingdom. Matthew is proficient in French.
Tony Hudson, Jr., originally from Atlanta, Georgia, will graduate in 2017 from Georgia Southern University with a BA in international studies with a focus in security, conflict, and diplomacy and a minor in Arabic. Tony serves on the Student Advisory Board for the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and as vice president of the Model Arab League on campus. Tony studied abroad in Rabat, Morocco. His languages include Arabic and Spanish.
Terrell Hunt graduated from Northeastern University in 2013 with a BA in business administration and a minor in international affairs. Terrell studied abroad in France and Japan, and interned at the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Western European Affairs and the Consulate General of the United States in Edinburgh, Scotland. He worked at Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc. before assuming his current position at Converse Inc.
Gregory Joy, from a military family, has grown up all over the United States. He will graduate in 2017 from the University of Georgia with a BA in international affairs and political science. He has interned as a legislative aide in the Georgia State Capitol and studied abroad in London, England. He was an active student leader on campus and has participated in several domestic service activities. Gregory is a 2016 Rangel Scholar and speaks Spanish.
Aseebulla Niazi, hailing from New Hampshire, graduated in 2015 from the University of New Hampshire with a BS in international business and economics and international affairs. He studied abroad in the United Arab Emirates and works as a Congressional staffer for Congresswoman Ann Kuster. He has worked at the Organization for Refugee and Immigrant Success and the World Affairs Council. Aseeb is from Afghanistan and speaks Dari and Arabic.
Nicole Roberts, originally from Milford, Massachusetts, graduated from American University in 2016 with a BA in justice, law, and society with a minor in Mandarin. She interned at the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) and the Office of Chinese and Mongolian Affairs. Nicole currently works at FSI. She studied abroad in China and France and was a student ambassador for the 100,000 Strong Foundation. Nicole speaks French, Spanish, and Mandarin Chinese.
Kalif Robinson, originally from Virginia Beach, Virginia, will graduate from the Georgia State University with a BA in economics with a minor in the Arabic language. He is a cultural competency ambassador, volunteers at the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, and has studied abroad in Jordan. Kalif is a 2016 Rangel Scholar and a 2015 Gilman Scholar. He has experience working professionally in his university’s advisement center. Kalif has proficiency in Arabic.
Sheldon Ruby, from Clearville, Pennsylvania, and will graduate in 2017 from Franklin and Marshall College with a BA in government and history. Sheldon was awarded a Critical Language Scholarship to study in Indonesia and has studied in the United Kingdom, China, and India. Sheldon co-founded The First-Generation Diplomats, Franklin and Marshall’s first-generation student support group. He speaks Bahasa and Spanish.
Zinna Senbetta, originally from Wheaton, Illinois, will graduate from Princeton University with a BA in sociology with a minor in French language and culture. Zinna studied abroad at the Sorbonne University in Paris and has interned at an international law NGO in Paris and the Young African Leaders Initiative Network Program under the Bureau of International Information Programs in Washington, D.C. Zinna speaks French and Spanish.
Deandre Smith, from Washington, D.C. and Maryland, received his BA in political science from Howard University in 2015. He studied abroad in St. Petersburg, Russia, and served as the secretary-general of the Howard University Society for Future Diplomats. Deandre is a 2014 Rangel Scholar and participated in Middlebury College’s Russian summer immersion program. He is currently teaching English in the American Center in Kiev, Ukraine and speaks Russian.
Camille Swinson, a Washington, D.C. native, will graduate in 2017 from Spelman College, with a BA in international studies and Spanish. Camille has interned at the State Department, DC Rape Crisis Center, and the Innocents at Risk. She studied in Peru and Spain, and as a member of her college’s Model United Nations team has participated in the 2016 Harvard World Model United Nations Conference in Rome, Italy. Camille speaks Spanish and French.
Hawi Tilahune, from Addis Abba, Ethiopia, graduated from Macalester College in 2016 with a BA international studies and political science with a concentration in African studies. Hawi has worked with the Red Cross, interned with the African Diaspora Policy Centre and Catholic Charities, and studied abroad in The Hague. Hawi was a PPIA Fellow at Carnegie Mellon University, and received a Mellon Mays Research Fellowship. She speaks Amharic, Afaan Oromo, and basic French.
Sulaiman Toghral, originally from Afghanistan, graduated from George Mason University with a BA in government and international affairs. He interned multiple times at the State Department in Washington, D.C., and virtually, and at the Consulate in South Africa. He currently works in the Office of Press and Public Diplomacy in Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. Sulaiman studied abroad in Jordan and speaks Dari and Arabic.
Tiffany Classie L. Williams, a native of Birmingham, Alabama, graduated in 2006 from Spelman College with a BA in history and political science. Tiffany studied abroad in Manchester, England with an English-speaking Union of the United States Luard Scholarship. She attended Stanford University where she earned a MA in education and preliminary teaching credential, and now teaches in Birmingham, Alabama. Tiffany speaks Spanish and Mandarin.
Chelsea Wilson, hailing from Baltimore, Maryland, received her BA in 2013 from Juniata College where she majored in sociology and minored in history. Chelsea studied abroad in Chennai, India, and taught for a year in Spain. She has worked at the Chinese Institute of International Education at Goucher College, at American University, and for Youth for Understanding. Chelsea’s languages include Spanish and Mandarin.
Sarahann Yeh, hailing from Maryland, graduated in 2016 from the University of Maryland College Park with a BS in biological sciences and a minor in international development and conflict management. As a participant in the U.S. Foreign Service Internship Program, she interned in the Office of International Health and Biodefense at the State Department and in the U.S. Embassy in Lilongwe, Malawi. She studied in China and Indonesia, and is currently a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Indonesia. She speaks Bahasa, Mandarin, and Spa
On February 17, the 2016 Rangel Fellowship selection panel chose 60 finalists to participate in an interview and writing exercise that will determine selection of 30 2016 Rangel Fellows. Their names, as well as information on the group and individuals, follow. The selection panel, chaired by Ambassador Ruth A. Davis, was extremely impressed by the new fellows’ performance in a highly rigorous selection process.
The finalists come from 50 different universities around the country. The finalists listed 19 home states, plus the District of Columbia. Texas supplied the largest numbers of applicants (10), followed by Virginia (7), Florida ((7), New York (6), Ohio (4), Maryland (4), California (3), Georgia (3), DC (3), Michigan (2), New Jersey (2), Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, North Carolina, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, University of Texas, and Washington. Twelve finalists are currently living overseas and returning for the interviews, including from Burkina Faso, Korea, Morocco, Taiwan, Panama, Iraq, China, Vietnam, and Indonesia. Their languages include Arabic, Spanish, French, Twi, Wolof, Portuguese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Haitian Creole, Japanese, Korean, German, Darija, Punjabi, Tamil, Twi, Somali, Italian, Guarani, Armenian and Bulgarian. Many have internship and post-undergraduate work experience, including service in Department of State internships and positions, the Peace Corps, congressional offices, state legislatures, the Fulbright program, AmeriCorps, international and domestic NGOs, Princeton in Latin America, community organizations, teaching English overseas, law firms, and industry associations. They also participated in programs to prepare them for international service such as the Rangel Summer Program, diverse internships, the Model UN, the Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA) program, and the Institute for International Public Policy.
The 2016 fellows will begin the Rangel program in May 2016 with an orientation and congressional internship, followed by two years of graduate work and internships overseas at U.S. embassies. They will enter the Foreign Service in 2018. While each brings a wide array of talents and skills to the program, below are some highlights of the 30 fellows.
Ranissa Adityavarman, from Syracuse, NY, graduated in 2016 from Colgate University with a BA in international studies with a concentration in cultural studies. Ranissa has studied in France and South Africa. She has volunteered teaching English in Indonesia and interned at the Care International in Geneva, Switzerland. She plans to study public policy in graduate school at Cornell University beginning the fall of 2016.
Julie Ahn, born in Los Angeles, CA, was raised in Istanbul, Turkey and graduated from Claremont McKenna College with a dual degree in international relations and Middle East studies. She interned at the US Embassy in Manama, Bahrain and recently returned from working in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. She will pursue a Master in Public Policy at Harvard University Kennedy School. Julie speaks
Natalia Arenas, a resident of South Carolina, graduated from Furman University where she studied political science and Chinese studies. During her time at Furman, she participated in a study away program to Washington D.C. and later interned for the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Atlantic Council. After graduation, she was awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant grant to teach in Taiwan. Natalia intends to focus on U.S. security policy, and speaks Spanish and Mandarin.
Tyra Beaman, from Richmond, VA, graduated from Spelman College where she studied international studies with a concentration in cultural studies. Tyra served in leadership roles in the Student Government Association, the Spelman and Morehouse Rotaract Club, and the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, and Black Beyond Borders. She studied abroad in Argentina, South Africa, Haiti, and Uruguay and interned for Congressman John Lewis and Representative Rahn Mayo. Tyra speaks Spanish, and plans to study at Georgetown University
Carlsky Belizaire, a New Yorker with Haitian roots, graduated summa cum laude from the Macaulay Honors College at CUNY Queens College where he was a political science major and Hertog Scholar. While at CUNY, Carlsky served as a Dialogue Fellow. Carlsky interned for U.S. Congressman Gregory Meeks and the Department of State’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs. He is a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant living in Taiwan and will attend Georgetown’s Master in Foreign Service Program.
Christian Burstall, an Austin native, studied political science and Mandarin at Brigham Young University-Idaho. He studied abroad in Beijing as a Boren Scholar, and after graduating served in the Inaugural Cohort of Boren Ambassadors. He has interned in at the Shenyang Consulate and taught courses in American culture at Shaanxi University of Technology. Christian plans to attend Johns Hopkins SAIS where he will split his time between Washington and the Hopkins Nanjing Center.
Yanique Campbell graduated with a BA in international studies and Spanish translation certification from American University. She is a Fulbright Scholar alumna who served in Spain and former Princeton Social Protection Fellow at the UN World Food Programme in Panamá. She has worked at the Embassy of New Zealand Economics Section, the Organization of American States, and the Central American Resource Center. Yanique, who speaks Spanish and Portuguese, was active in the international affairs community at American University and will focus her graduate studies at Georgetown.
Alexis Coleman, from Garland, TX, received her BA in international affairs from George Washington University, concentrating in conflict resolution and minoring in communication. Alexis has interned for the Department of Justice, the National Peace Corps Association, Walker Dunlop, the International Law Institute, Organizing for America and the Department of State. She studied abroad in Spain and speaks Spanish. She currently works at the Department of State in the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations.
Meredith Davis was born in Mexico City and grew up between Mexico and Venezuela before moving to Cincinnati, OH. After graduating with from Yale, she moved to Beijing as a Richard U. Light Fellow. Meredith was the Operations Coordinator at the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy, the Beijing center of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Meredith speaks Spanish and Mandarin fluently. She plans to pursue a Master in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School.
Joyce Dudley is from Hyattsville, Maryland. She graduated from the University of Maryland College Park (UMCP) with a Bachelors of Arts in Russian Language and Literature. While at UMCP, Ms. Dudley held an internship for the Department of State at the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest, Romania. During senior year of college, Joyce interned with Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards on Capitol Hill. Her plans for graduate school include a masters in intercultural and international communication with a concentration in public diplomacy from American University. Joyce is fluent in French and Russian.
Christopher Franklin, born in Washington DC, studied Chinese and international development and conflict management at the University of Maryland. He has interned at the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission and the U.S. Department of State, and has travelled to various parts of China, including Beijing, Tianjin, Sichuan, Hebel, and Shandong. He speaks Chinese and Arabic and plans to do his graduate studies at Columbia University.
Nathan Gwira, a New Jersey native, graduated from Rutgers University where he studied international and African studies. He has been involved with the Young African Leaders Initiative and Young Southeast Asian Leadership Initiative, and currently works in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs on private sector exchanges at the State Department. Nathan interned in the Office of the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, speaks Mandarin and Spanish, and plans to attend American University.
Victoria Hill, from Provo, UT, studied political science at Wake Forest University with a minor in Middle East & South Asia studies. She spent a year as a Fulbright Scholar in Austria and returned to her alma mater to work in international admissions, focusing on recruitment in Latin America and India. After completing her congressional internship, she will do her graduate work at American University. Victoria’s languages include German, French, and Arabic.
Sahil Jain, from Sacramento, CA, graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in international relations and South Asian studies. He studied abroad in the United Kingdom and India. He has worked for the U.S. Department of State in the Office of Israel/Palestinian affairs and USAID’sGlobal Development Lab. He currently works at the Department of State in the Bureau of Consular Affairs. Sahil’s languages include Hindi, Punjabi, and Tamil, and plans to attend George Washington University.
Simone Kendall, from Detroit, MI, graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a bachelor of social work and later joined the Peace Corps. Serving two years in Morocco as a youth development volunteer solidified her passion and commitment to a career in the Foreign Service. Simone speaks Darija and Arabic and plans to pursue a Master of Science in Foreign Service at Georgetown University.
Hayley King, originally from San Francisco, CA, graduated summa cum laude from in 2016 Howard University. As an undergraduate, Hayley interned for Congressman G.K. Butterfield from North Carolina, the White House Office of Presidential Correspondence, and the Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. Hayley will pursue a Master’s in International Relations and Public Diplomacy from Syracuse University. Her languages include Arabic and Spanish.
Justine King, a native New Yorker, graduated in 2015 from the University of Rochester where she majored in international relations. While at Rochester, she conducted research with the Political Science Department, studied abroad in Belgium, and interned at the European Parliament. She was a member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, the Multicultural Greek Council, and the Xclusive Step Team, among other activities. Justine later served in a congressional office on Capitol Hill and plans attend American University School.
Jasmine Lopez, originally from Los Angeles, CA, graduated from New York University where she majored in history and politics with a focus on the modern political development of Latin America. She has worked at the Consulate General of Canada, the North American Congress on Latin America, the Correspondence Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio, various law firms across the country, and the Department of Agriculture’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights. Jasmine speaks Spanish and Portuguese and plans to study at John Hopkins University.
Plamen Mavrov emigrated from Bulgaria and grew up in Woodstock, GA. He graduated summa cum laude from Kennesaw State University where he majored in international affairs and political science and minored in economics. He was involved with the campus Model UN team, studied abroad in Peru as a Gilman Scholar, and led KSU’s undergraduate international affairs journal. Plamen is a 2014 Rangel Scholar and has taught English in Korea. Plamen speaks Bulgarian, Spanish, and Korean and will study at Georgia Institute of Technology.
Mark Mock, a proud Detroit native, graduated with honors from Wayne State University with a degree in journalism. Mark studied abroad in South Africa, Turkey, and Mexico. He taught English in Mexico City and wrote for the largest English-language publication in Mexico, The News. Mark taught English in Indonesia as a Fulbright Fellow and later worked for the Fulbright Commission in Indonesia. He speaks Spanish and Bahasa and plans to study at Columbia University.
Clarece Polke, from Archer, FL, graduated from Florida A&M University with a degree in journalism. She previously worked for Thomson Reuters and the Post-Gazette in Pittsburgh. She served as Editor-in-Chief of her student newspaper, The Famuan, and studied abroad in southern China. Some of her reporting highlights include covering the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, and President Barack Obama’s second inauguration. She speaks Mandarin and plans to study at American University.
Christina Powell graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park where she studied government and politics with minors in international development, conflict management and Spanish. She was a Global Public Health Scholar and was involved on campus in the National Council of Negro Women and W.E.B. Du Bois National Honor Society. Christina has studied and worked abroad, and interned at the State Department. She speaks Spanish and plans to study at Georgetown University.
Nadia Ramirez was born in Bogota, Colombia and moved to the U.S. when she was 10. She studied international relations at Rollins College where she minored in Economics and Asian Studies. She taught English in South Korea as a Fulbright Fellow and was active in the local community. She studied abroad as a Gilman Scholar in China, and speaks Spanish, French, and Mandarin. Nadia plans to study at Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs.
Juan Reyes, raised in El Paso, TX, graduated from the University of Texas El Paso where he studied French, English-Spanish translation, and bilingual education. He studied abroad in France, and later served as an AmeriCorps volunteer. He has interned at the Department of State’s African Affairs Bureau, and is now an English Language Fellow in Burkina Faso. Juan speaks Spanish, French, and Korean, and plans to pursue a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced and International Studies.
Johanna Sanchez was born in Dominican Republic and moved to the Bronx, New York at the age of 9. She graduated from Hamilton College with a degree in world politics. Johanna served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Paraguay before returning to the U.S. to work as a recruiter for the Peace Corps. She has worked in the Dominican Republic on issues related to the Millennium Development Goals. She studied abroad in the Dominican Republic and Argentina, and is fluent in Spanish. Johanna plans to attend Columbia University’s SIPA program to pursue a Master’s of Development.
John Steele, from Cleveland, OH, graduated from Miami University with a double major in political science and sociology. As Division I football player, he received All-Conference academic honors in three consecutive years. John has worked for Congressman Charles Rangel, the Congressional Research Service, Congressman John Lewis, and the office of Ohio State Senator Tom Sawyer. He currently works at Match Public Charter High School in Boston. John plans to study at the George Washington University Elliott School.
Kiersten Strachan is a 2016 graduate of the University of Oklahoma with three degrees in Chinese, international security, and history. She was an intern in the U.S. Foreign Service Internship Program and worked in the Office of Public Diplomacy in the Bureau of East Asia and the Pacific. Kiersten was active on campus in the Great American Condom Campaign and the policy debate team. She is a graduate of Beijing Normal University and speaks Chinese.
Sade Tuckett is a 2016 graduate of Spelman College, where she majored in psychology. Originally from the Bronx, New York, Sade studied abroad in East Legon, Ghana and interned with the Council on Foreign Relations. She served as the President of the Muslim Student Association and co-charterer the first HBCU chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine. Sade speaks French and plans to attend American University to pursue an MA in International Peace and Conflict Resolution
Rebekah Vermillion, from Columbus, OH, graduated from Claremont McKenna College where she majored in international relations with a focus on Latin America. Rebekah mentors first-year Latina students. She has interned at the State Department’s Office of Cuban Affairs and in the Economic Section at the U.S. Embassy in Madrid, Spain, after studying abroad there. She has lived and volunteered in Cuzco, Peru. Rebekah speaks Spanish, Portuguese, and German and plans to study at the Georgetown University.
Gabrielle Young, from California, graduated summa cum laude from the University of California, Los Angeles with a BA in African and Middle Eastern studies. Gabrielle was internal president of The Olive Tree Initiative at UCLA and studied abroad in Jordan as a Foreign Language and Area Studies fellow. Gabrielle served in Chicago as a part of Teach for America, and accepted a Fulbright Award to teach in Jordan. She speaks Arabic and Spanish and plans to attend the Fletcher School at Tufts University.
Hamda Yusuf graduated from the University of Washington with a major in international studies and minors in German and African Studies. She has interned with Senator Maria Cantwell’s office and has travelled to Austria, Hungary, Wales, and Japan. As a first-generation college student, Hamda credits her parents for motivating her to be a positive force in the world. She plans to study at the New School’s Milano School of International. Her languages include Somali and German.
Daniella Zelaya, from Woodbridge, VA, graduated from Virginia Tech where she majored in international studies and economics with a focus in human rights and international development. She traveled to Morocco, Turkey, and Sri Lanka through its 21st Century Studies Program. She has interned at the State Department’s Office of Multilateral and Global Affairs in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor and Sarvodaya in Sri Lanka. Daniella speaks Spanish and plans to study at George Washington University.
On March 12, the Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellowship Program selection panel chose 30 2015 Rangel Fellows. Their names, as well as information on the group and individuals, follow. The selection panel, chaired by Ambassador Ruth A. Davis, was extremely impressed by the new fellows’ performance in a highly rigorous selection process.
The 2015 Rangel Fellows reflect the excellence and diversity that have characterized the program since its creation. The group includes individuals from 16 states, including Florida, Virginia, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Ohio, Arizona, Colorado, Texas, Missouri, North Carolina, Iowa, Washington, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Georgia. The 2015 fellows attended 29 different undergraduate institutions throughout the United States that reflect a full range of academic experiences, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, Ivy League schools, large state universities, and smaller private schools. The fellows also represent significant racial and ethnic diversity. Many have family ties to other world regions. Their languages include Arabic, Mandarin, Russian, Japanese, Korean, French, Spanish, Dutch, Tagalog, Portuguese, German, Swahili, Zulu, Swahili, Italian, Turkish, Hebrew, and Darija. Six of the fellows are graduating seniors; 24 have post-undergraduate work experience. Work experience includes the Peace Corps, Fulbright Program, the State Department and other government agencies, non-governmental organizations, state legislatures, the U.S. Congress, teaching, international organizations, and business. While they are still making final graduate program selections, they are looking at a broad range of international or public policy-related programs in universities around the United States.
The 2015 fellows will begin the Rangel program in May 2015 with an orientation and congressional internship, followed by two years of graduate work and internships overseas at U.S. embassies. They will enter the Foreign Service in 2017. While each brings a wide array of talents and skills to the program, below are some highlights regarding the 30 fellows.
Lisa-Felicia Akorli is a 2012 graduate of Harvard University. She is half Dutch and half Ghanaian and grew up in Phoenix, Arizona. After college, she spent one year conducting international law research at an NGO in The Hague and the following year did development work at an inner-city youth development nonprofit in New York. She is passionate about resolving violent conflict, particularly through multi-stakeholder collaboration and women’s empowerment. She plans to do her graduate studies at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, where she will focus on building skills in negotiation, mediation, international diplomacy and public-private partnerships. Her languages include Dutch, French and Spanish.
Ashley Arostegui hails from Florida and is currently Associate Director of the Office of Civic and Community Engagement at the University of Miami. She holds BA degrees in English and History from Florida International University. She studied abroad in Prague and completed an MA in Media Studies at The New School in New York City. She has worked on a wide variety of issues including affordable housing, arts and culture, sustainability, food security, and community development. She served in AmeriCorps VISTA, working with Miami’s diverse communities. She plans to focus on international conflict and conflict resolution in her graduate studies and intends to become a Political Officer in the Foreign Service.
William Baskerville was born and raised in Las Vegas. He attended the University of Southern California, where he double majored in International Relations and East Asian Languages and Cultures. During his time at USC, he developed a passion for social justice and human rights. This interest has propelled him to many countries including Japan, Denmark, Mexico, and China where he has explored diversity issues in an international setting. He is currently teaching in China. He plans to pursue a master’s degree in public policy to develop the skills needed to serve the public good. He desires to set a positive example for those in his own community as well as those around the world. His languages include Mandarin Chinese and Tagalog.
Shawn Bush graduated from Howard University with a degree in Spanish Language and Literature and holds a certificate in International Studies from Johns Hopkins SAIS. Born into a military family, he claims Washington State, New York City, and Virginia Beach as his homes. He currently works in the Office of U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, where he serves with the defense team handling foreign policy and military issues. Before working on Capitol Hill, he taught English with the DC Public Schools and the Chilean Ministry of Education. He plans to obtain a master’s degree in international security studies from Columbia University SIPA.
Juny Canenguez, a 2014 graduate of George Mason University, is an aspiring Management Officer who has worked in the State Department’s Office of Recruitment and in U.S. Embassy Paris. She lived in El Salvador as a child. She is committed to promoting development and meeting economic needs for the less fortunate in developing countries. She believes strong management is critical to achieving the State Department’s mission and will pursue a Master’s in Business Administration. Her languages include Spanish and French.
Cassie Gianni was born and raised in Houston; she will graduate from the University of Houston with a major in Economics and minors in Political Philosophy and Spanish in May 2015. She hopes to advance her knowledge and skills in economics by pursuing her Master’s degree in International Affairs and Development. During college, she studied abroad in China, as well as volunteered overseas in Colombia and Peru. She was a 2012 Rangel Undergraduate Scholar. Her community service has focused on education and economic empowerment, working predominately with young students and adult aspiring entrepreneurs. In the Foreign Service, Cassie hopes to serve as an economic officer, working toward reducing widespread poverty, promoting security, and advancing freedom. Her languages include Mandarin and Spanish.
Joshua Gonzalez is a 2013 graduate of The Ohio State University where he studied Spanish Linguistics and International Relations with a focus on U.S.-Latin American Relations. He completed research projects related to the history of Latinos in Ohio and Spanish phonetics. Joshua studied abroad in Quito, Ecuador and lived in Spain as an English teaching assistant for a year. He participated in the 2013 Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Summer Enrichment Program. He plans to obtain a Master’s degree in International Security from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. He speaks Spanish.
Nicholas Grandchamps hails from Casselberry, Florida. He received his BA from the University of Central Florida, where he double majored in Legal Studies and Political Science – International Relations, and minored in Global Peace and Security Studies. As a student, he worked as a Student Government Association Senator for the College of Sciences, an International Visitor Leadership Program Fellow for the World Affairs Council of Central Florida, and as a Human Trafficking Awareness Fellow for the UCF Global Perspectives Office. He has written an Honors Thesis on methods to combat human trafficking in sub-Saharan Africa, and volunteered and studied in Egypt, France, Greece, Haiti, and Jamaica. He hopes to complete his graduate studies at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs or American University’s School of International Service.
Larry Harris, Jr. is a Chicago native and a senior studying Political Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He studied abroad in Austria in college and has taken classes in both German and Swahili. Larry has worked for the State Department on two occasions. He just completed an internship at the U.S. Mission to International Organizations in Vienna, where he served in the Public Affairs section. He also did a virtual internship with the State Department’s Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications, focusing on U.S.-Kenya relations. He was a 2014 Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Scholar and an Opportunity Leader with Opportunity Nation. Larry will pursue a Masters of Public Administration.
Tessa Henry, who hails from Philadelphia, is a 2010 graduate of Tufts University where she studied International Relations and African Studies. She was an active student leader, studied abroad in Spain, did research in Ghana, and traveled extensively in South America. She participated in the 2010 Rangel Summer Program. She currently serves as the Program Officer for the Donald M. Payne International Development Fellowship Program, leading this new effort to promote excellence and diversity in USAID. An aspiring management officer, she will pursue graduate studies in Public Policy or International Affairs.
Deje Holmes graduated in 2014 from Washington University in St. Louis, where she double majored in History and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Her interest in minority rights stems from her inner-city Chicago background, and has led her to study the intersections of race, gender, and class among refugee populations in Istanbul, Turkey and Rome, Italy. Deje currently serves as a Workforce Solutions AmeriCorps in St. Louis, where she serves the employment needs of newly arrived refugees and immigrants. As a graduate student, she hopes to study International Affairs and Global Gender Issues at George Washington University. Her languages include Italian and Russian.
Maurice Jackson is a graduating Accounting student with a minor in Global Security at Florida A&M University. Growing up in inner-city Miami, he attributes his passion for public service to the community development programs he participated in as a child. In college, he translated his passion for helping others into the creation of several service organizations. His interest in the Foreign Service was sparked by research on poverty-stricken communities in Minas Gerais, Brazil, followed by research trips to South Africa and Lesotho. A first-generation college student, he continues to give back to his community in Miami. Maurice will do his graduate work at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. His languages studies including Spanish, Portuguese and Zulu.
Nia Jackson was born in Queens, New York and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of South Florida in May 2014. She has served as an intern in various state and local government agencies and worked for non-profits and think tanks. She recently worked in the office of Senator Jeff Merkley. Receiving the Critical Language Scholarship to study Arabic in Morocco was the experience that cemented her desire to become a Foreign Service Officer. She plans on attending American University for graduate studies.
Samantha Jackson hails from Brooklyn, New York and has Afro-Brazilian and Jamaican parentage. She is a graduate of Columbia University, where she majored in International Affairs and Conflict Resolution, with a concentration in African Studies. During college, she served as the President and International Outreach Chairwoman of the Caribbean Students Association at Columbia University, founded an international service initiative that focuses on education in the West Indies, and studied abroad in Ethiopia and Ghana, Asia, Latin America, The Caribbean, and Europe. She received a Master’s in Urban Education Policy at Brown University and has worked at the United Nations and in education policy. She will pursue a Master’s in International Affairs and is elated to serve her country as Public Diplomacy Officer in the U.S. State Department.
Khoury Johnson hails from Philadelphia, where he attended Temple University as a Political Science major. While there, he interned at the State Department in Washington, DC, where he worked on promoting outreach as a Public Affairs Intern. He has also worked at the World Affairs Council, and for the Think Tanks and the Civil Society Program at the University of Pennsylvania. His languages are Chinese and French. Khoury plans to do his graduate studies at Georgetown University’s Asian Studies program.
Natazia Johnson was born in Richmond, Virginia, and is a graduating senior at Spelman College where she majors in International Studies. During her time there, she studied abroad in Spain and has traveled to North Africa, Europe and Asia. She became an intern at the State Department’s Office of Chinese Affairs, under the sponsorship of the Association of Black American Ambassadors and the Thursday Lunch Group, and currently works with resettled refugees in Clarkston, Georgia. Natazia plans on attending American University and hopes to become a Public Diplomacy Officer.
Jeffrey Joseph is a graduating senior from Chicago, Illinois majoring in Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University. During his college years, he took advantage of a wide range of work opportunities with NGOs, business and governmental organizations, which helped develop his interest in international affairs. He has worked with an NGO in India on disability issues, for the United Kingdom’s Parliament in the Joint Committee on Human Rights, and for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in Washington DC. He will be pursuing a Master’s in International Relations and hopes to become a Political Officer in the Department of State.
Aja Kennedy is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer who recently completed two years of service in the Darien Province of Panama. During her service, Aja worked as a TEFL teacher trainer and served as President of Peace Corps Panama’s Gender and Development Board. Aja is a native of Charlotte, NC and is a proud Tar Heel, graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2012 with a B.A. in Spanish and Global Studies and a minor in Chinese. During her undergraduate career, Aja studied in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Spain and China. She is looking forward to becoming an Economic-coned FSO, working in the Far East and other locations, once she completes her graduate studies.
Joy King is a recent graduate of the University of Florida, with degrees in Political Science and Journalism and a certificate in International Affairs. She learned about the Foreign Service from a Diplomat in Residence. Encouraged to learn more about the career, she accepted an internship in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs in the Office of Policy and Global Issues in spring 2014. She continued in this office after graduation, supporting the office’s ten regional issues with a specific focus on congressional affairs. She enjoys learning about different cultures and has a specific interest in anti-corruption efforts and countering violent extremism. She plans to pursue a Master’s in International Affairs and become a Public Diplomacy Officer.
Raquel King hails from Port Saint Lucie, Florida and did her undergraduate studies at Spelman College in Atlanta. She has worked as a language intern at the Latin American Association, a Spanish interpreter for an immigration attorney, and an intern for Congressman Charles B. Rangel in New York City. During college, she studied abroad in Brazil, France, Ecuador and Peru. She plans to pursue a M.S. in Foreign Service with a concentration in International Development at Georgetown University.
Chad Maddox was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia and earned his bachelor’s degree from Kennesaw State University. He worked for over three years as an intelligence analyst for the Department of Defense, specializing in counter-terrorism and counter-proliferation efforts. Chad has spent the last year as a Senior Consultant on a team making IBM’s Jeopardy-winning supercomputer, WATSON, answer questions related to international affairs. He plans to pursue a Master’s in Public Policy at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School.
Maria Mate-Kodjo is from Pella, Iowa. She received a Bachelor’s of Science from the University of Michigan in astronomy and astrophysics with a physics minor. She studied abroad for a semester at Bogazici University in Istanbul, Turkey. She served in the Public Allies Iowa AmeriCorps program as a Refugee Community Coordinator at the Ethnic Minorities of Burma Resource and Advocacy Center in Marshalltown, Iowa. Maria is interested in languages and has studied French, Italian, German, and Spanish and hopes to work on learning Arabic and Japanese. She plans on attending George Washington University, concentrating her studies on Conflict and Conflict Resolution.
Anne Mwendar hails from Seattle, Washington where she graduated from the University of Washington in June 2014 with a BA of Interdisciplinary Honors in International Studies. She was an inaugural member of the U.S. State Department’s U.S. Foreign Service Internship Program, where she worked for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in summer 2014. She also served as a fellow at the United Nations Information Center in Washington DC. In college, she studied international relations and law at Sciences Po Paris and volunteered extensively in Kenya. In Seattle, she worked with the World Affairs Council, East African Community Service and the University of Washington Athletics Department. She is fluent in French and Kiswahili. She is passionate about foreign policy, poverty, and youth development. She will pursue a Master’s in International Affairs at Columbia University SIPA.
Chuma Nnawulezi was raised in Omaha, Nebraska and completed his undergraduate degree at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. During college, he was a member of the Philosophy, Politics, and Public Honors Program. In his third year, he participated in the International Honors Program’s Cities in the 21st Century International Exchange. He studied urban development in Ahmedabad, India; Dakar, Senegal; and Buenos Aires, Argentina. Chuma hopes to obtain his graduate degree in public administration. During his career, he hopes to have substantial involvement in the West Africa region but looks forward to contributing wherever he is needed.
April Reino is a proud Minnesotan and alumna of Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. She majored in Political Science and German Studies. After graduating in 2012, she spent a year teaching English in Incheon, South Korea before going to Vienna, Austria as a Fulbright Combined-Grantee. With the Fulbright Program, she taught English at an Austrian high school and studied international public law and political science at the University of Vienna. She spent her second year in Vienna teaching and interning with the U.S. Commercial Service and the International Press Institute. She plans to pursue a Master of Public Policy degree at Duke University. Her foreign languages include German, Korean, and Italian.
Eric Salgado is from East Haven, Connecticut. He graduated from Fairfield University in Connecticut with bachelor degrees in Spanish and Latin American Studies and a minor in Educational Studies. Eric has studied and conducted research and service projects in Latin America and the Caribbean. Eric plans to pursue his graduate degree at the Edmund Walsh School of Foreign service at Georgetown University where he will study Latin American Studies with a focus on conflict resolution and human rights.
Katrina Springer is a native of Syracuse, New York who will graduate from Lincoln University of Pennsylvania in May 2015. She is a first generation American of Barbadian and Panamanian heritage. International travel has always been an important part of her life, and she has visited 25 countries. She participated in Semester at Sea, attended the 2014 U.S.-China Student Summit, did Arabic study at the Middlebury Language School, and did an internship at the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia. She plans to pursue graduate studies in Public Diplomacy at Syracuse University and become a Public Diplomacy Officer. She is particularly interested in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Cameron Torreon is a Maryland native born in Baltimore and raised in Annapolis. He completed his Bachelors of Art in Government and Politics with a minor in Spanish Language and Culture at the University of Maryland College Park in 2012. As a junior, Cameron studied abroad in Madrid, Spain where he volunteered as an English teacher in local middle schools. Since graduation, Cameron has worked as a management analyst at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). His portfolio at DHS included supporting the Secretary’s Cyberskills Management Support Initiative, coordinating headquarters congressional correspondence, and implementing strategic acquisition planning and analysis policies. In addition to his time in Spain, Cameron has also traveled throughout Central and South America most recently in El Salvador and Colombia. Cameron aspires to gain a better understanding of global communication and hopes to showcase the best of American values and diversity as a Public Diplomacy Officer. Cameron will pursue a Master’s degree in International Affairs at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.
Joshua Trinidad is originally from Cayey, Puerto Rico but moved to the U.S. as a child. He lived in various locations but now calls New York home. He studied French, Spanish, Japanese and translation/interpretation with the City University of New York Baccalaureate Program. During college, Joshua studied and taught in a high school in Paris. The following summer he participated in a Critical Language Scholarship program in Japan, followed by a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Colombia. He plans to pursue International Policy Studies at the graduate level with a concentration in conflict resolution and Japanese studies.
Pablo Tutillo has had a passion for international relations since his childhood. He moved to the United States from Ecuador when he was eleven. Growing up in New London, Connecticut in a Puerto Rican working-class family, he witnessed economic and social inequalities and became involved in community service during high school. He majored in International Relations and minored in Arabic Studies at Connecticut College. He founded a mentorship program to encourage local children to learn about foreign languages and global education. He participated in the Institute for International Public Policy (IIPP) program and became interested in the Foreign Service. He studied Intensive Arabic and did research on the international politics of the Middle East in Alexandria, Egypt; worked as social entrepreneurship intern in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro; conducted research on Israeli-Palestinian relations in Jerusalem; and has been studying Turkish on a scholarship from the Government of Turkey. He plans to pursue a Master’s in International Public Policy at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey.