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Four US Fulbrighters Awarded Foreign Service Fellowships

Two US Fulbright alumnae from recent years and a current Fulbright US Student have been awarded the Charles B. Rangel Graduate Fellowship, named for Congressman Charles B. Rangel, who is retiring from Congress in 2016 after representing Harlem, New York, for more than 46 years. The fellowship aims to attract and prepare outstanding young people for careers in the Foreign Service, especially members of minority groups historically underrepresented in the Foreign Service and those with financial need. Another US Fulbright alumna received a similar fellowship, the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship, which is named for Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering and aims to attract outstanding students from all ethnic and social backgrounds who are dedicated to representing America's interests abroad. Both of these competitive fellowships provide generous scholarships for graduate study, as well as mentoring and summer internship opportunities, and conclude with the fellows’ entry into the Foreign Service. Read more about the fellowship-winning Fulbrighters in their own words:

Hamda Yusuf
Fulbright US Student, Community-Based Combined Grant, 2016-17
University of Washington/ University of Vienna
Charles Rangel Graduate Fellow, 2017

I am a recent graduate from the University of Washington with a major in International Studies and minors in German and African Studies. I am also a Somali-American and call both Hargeisa, Somalia and Seattle, Washington home. At UW, I was involved in various affinity and social justice organizations and served in a variety of leadership functions. After interning with Senator Maria Cantwell's office in Seattle, I became further interested in immigration and visa issues. Throughout my studies I began to focus on immigration pathways, cultural studies, and human rights. These passions were a big motivation in my applying for both the Rangel Fellowship and the Fulbright-Austria Community Based Combined Grant for the 2016-2017 year. As an immigrant myself, I feel uniquely capable to tackle these issues with a new perspective.  With the Fulbright grant, I am working as an English teaching assistant in two Austrian secondary schools, attending classes at the University of Vienna, and working with a housing organization for refugees in Austria. Having already participated in a study abroad program my sophomore year in Vienna, I feel well prepared to return to a city that I found both beautiful and perplexing. After my Fulbright year, I will join the Rangel Fellowship Program and complete my graduate studies at the New School’s Milano School of International Affairs in New York City where I will focus on conflict and security. With the Rangel, I hope to eventually serve as a consular officer in the Foreign Service, where I will work to promote security and increase understanding between nations. I feel honored to serve as a cultural ambassador for the United States and believe that the Fulbright award will allow me to take my first step into diplomacy, making me a more experienced and perhaps even more qualified Foreign Service Officer.

Elvia Valle
Fulbright US Student, Fulbright-Diplomatic Academy Award 2014-15
St. Edward's University, TX/ Diplomatic Academy Vienna
Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellow, 2015

I have always been passionate about foreign affairs, languages, and Europe. Therefore, spending a year as a Fulbright student at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna was not only a dream come true, but a significant factor in my candidacy for the Pickering Fellowship and my graduate program. Currently I am a Master's candidate in German and European Studies in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Once I finish my degree, I will intern at an embassy overseas before starting my career in the U.S. Foreign Service. I chose to commit to a career in the Foreign Service due to my particular interest in American Public Diplomacy, of which the Fulbright Program is a part. I hope to build my career around the promotion of mutual understanding between the United States and the world, because I believe it is the single most important facet of any foreign policy seeking to promote peace.

April Reino
Fulbright US Student, Combined Grant, 2013-14
Concordia College/University of Vienna
Charles Rangel Graduate Fellow, 2015

As a 2015 Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellow, I am now pursuing my Master of Public Policy at Duke University and will enter the Foreign Service as an Economic Officer. A number of Fellows are former grantees and ETAs and it’s easy to see why Fulbrighters take their international experiences to the State Department. My own Fulbright experience introduced me to Foreign Service Officers working at the U.S. Embassy in Vienna, highlighting a career path I had never before considered. Learning more about the Embassy through Fulbright led me to pursue an internship with the U.S. Commercial Service in Vienna where I assisted with a civil nuclear energy industry program. Seeing up close the portfolios and projects officers handled motivated me to learn more about the Foreign Service and ultimately apply for a Rangel Fellowship. My experiences as a Combined Grantee proved highly relevant to FSO work, as I had been afforded the opportunity to work on a variety of professional and academic teams, develop my language skills, and improve my substantive knowledge of international affairs. My work as a grantee was transformative in that I was able to explore my motivations for pursuing an IR-related career and gain exposure to professionals I would have otherwise never met. 

Victoria Hill
Fulbright US Student, Fulbright-Diplomatic Academy Award, 2012-13
Wake Forest/ Diplomatic Academy Vienna
Charles Rangel Graduate Fellow, 2016

The things that attracted me to the Foreign Service were the same things that inspired me to apply to the Fulbright program: a chance to experience new cultures, and to show people the rich cultural differences that make the United States such a unique country. As a Foreign Service Officer, I’ll have the opportunity to do that while serving my country at home and abroad. First, I’ll be getting my Master’s degree at American University’s School of International Service, in European and Eurasian Studies—a great chance to build on the things I learned as a Fulbrighter at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna! My time as a Fulbright Scholar not only taught me inside the classroom; I also learned how to live overseas, how to engage with a culture that is different to my own, and just how much we have in common in spite of those cultural differences.