A Typical Fellowship Experience
The Fellows’ experience begins with their selection in the late fall of their senior year (or the fall prior to the year in which they plan to start graduate studies, if they are university graduates). Rangel Fellows include both graduating seniors and individuals with post-undergraduate work experience. Soon after selection, Rangel Fellows are expected to sign contracts with State Department and begin their security clearance process. The Rangel Program identifies a State Department mentor to support them throughout their Fellowship and assists them in meeting State Department requirements for security, suitability and medical clearances. Participation in the Rangel Program is conditional upon successful completion of pre-employment procedures specified by the Department of State, including background investigations for a security clearance, suitability determinations, and medical examinations.
All new Fellows arrive in Washington in mid-May to participate in an orientation program that introduces them to the program and their Foreign Service career. Fellows then begin Congressional Internships working for Members of Congress involved in international affairs for approximately ten weeks. This internship provides them with a deeper understanding of the critical role of the legislative branch in U.S. foreign policy and the functioning of Capitol Hill. In addition, the Fellows take part in various professional development sessions at Howard University to hone the skills needed for success in graduate school and the Foreign Service. They meet with State Department officials at many levels, as well as with representatives from other executive branch agencies, Capitol Hill, non-governmental organizations, and foreign diplomats. They participate in activities to strengthen skills such as writing needed for their Foreign Service careers. The Rangel Program covers the costs of domestic travel and housing and provides a stipend to cover fellows’ costs for the orientation and congressional internship.
In mid-August, the Fellows disperse to attend graduate school in approved programs throughout the United States. Fellows must obtain master’s degrees in international affairs or a related subject, such as economics, history, political science, public administration, business administration, or public policy. They receive up to $37,500 annually in assistance for tuition, room, board, books and other related expenses. Currently, Rangel Fellows are doing graduate work in universities including Johns Hopkins, Columbia, Georgetown, Harvard, Yale, Tufts, Syracuse, American, George Washington, Denver, University of Texas, Austin, and the University of Pittsburgh. A number of universities provide supplemental financial assistance to any Rangel Fellow. Other universities provide financial assistance on a case-by-case basis.
In the summer between their first and second years of graduate school, Rangel Fellows participate in a 10-week overseas internship at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate overseas. Each internship experience is different, with Fellows working on a variety of issues and projects in different sections of the Embassies. In the past few years, Rangel Fellows have served in Nairobi, London, Tegucigalpa, Maseru, Luanda, Pretoria, Dakar, Kigali, Singapore, Tokyo, Vientiane, Phnom Penh, Seoul, Hanoi, Singapore, Tiblisi, Moscow, Vienna, Guatemala City, Quito, Santo Domingo, Lima, La Paz, Nassau, Cairo, Tunis, Rabat, Muscat and Doha. Fellows report that the internship has a dramatic impact on them, providing them with hands-on knowledge of U.S. foreign policy, conditions in specific countries, and the work and lifestyle of the Foreign Service. It sharpens their professional focus and enhances their language and communication skills. The Rangel Program provides a stipend, airline travel, and emergency medical insurance for this internship and reimburses for certain internship-related expenses such as visas.
Returning to the United States, Fellows complete their graduate work, maintaining a cumulative GPA of at least 3.2 out of 4.0 throughout their period of study. Upon successful completion of the Rangel Program and State Department entry requirements, Fellows receive an appointment to the Foreign Service, with a required five years of service.
The Rangel Fellowship, reflecting a collaborative effort between the State Department, Howard University, the U.S. Congress and universities nationwide, helps ensure a Foreign Service that represents the diversity of America and is second-to-none in its ability to promote U.S. interests throughout the world.