Two Georgetown seniors and one alumna received the competitive 2018 Charles B. Rangel Graduate Fellowship, a State Department program that provides financial support to students pursuing careers in the foreign service for two years of graduate study, internships, mentoring and professional development activities.
Among this year’s 30 fellows are Marta Aparicio (COL ’14), Kala Deterville (COL ’18) and Sofia Gomez (SFS ’18). Georgetown tied with Florida State University this year for most fellows selected from one institution.
John Glavin, director of the Office of Fellowships, Awards and Resources, said Georgetown’s Jesuit values permeate these fellows’ career paths.
“Once again, we see the ongoing power of the Jesuit ideal, training men and women who will work not only for their own success, but also for the wellbeing of humankind,” Glavin said in a Georgetown University news release.
The Rangel Fellowship is considered one of the United States’ most prestigious diversity fellowships and was created to equip highly qualified applicants from diverse economic and racial backgrounds for foreign service roles. Fellows who successfully complete the program and meet the rigorous foreign service entry requirements receive appointments as foreign service officers.
The Rangel Fellowship program, created by the State Department in 2002, was threatened last year when the department announced it was suspending two classes of the Rangel Fellowship and the Charles R. Pickering Fellowship, a similar diversity-oriented fellowship, instead giving graduates the option to do administrative consular work or wait until foreign service positions reopened.
The decision was reversed within a few weeks following opposition from leaders in the international affairs academic community, including School of Foreign Service Dean Joel Hellman, in a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
The three Rangel fellows from Georgetown have followed varied paths to the program, but all say they are ultimately driven to pursue careers in the foreign service.
A double major in sociology and government, Aparicio said her experience as a first-generation student inspired her to become a diplomat. With help from an American diplomat stationed in Guatemala City who granted her a visa, Aparicio reunited with her parents after 11 years apart.
Aparicio said the act influenced her decision to follow the same career path.
“I know the efficacy of giving and receiving help,” Aparicio said in the news release.
Gomez, an international politics major pursuing a certificate in Arab studies, said her family history also played a role in her diplomatic aspirations. Her father was a political refugee from Cuba, and the State Department helped him establish his new life in the United States.
Gomez said she has wanted to join the foreign service since high school.
Deterville’s exposure to the international community drove her interest in the foreign service, though in a slightly different way. Majoring in Japanese and government, Deterville said that growing up, her family would host foreign exchange students from all over the world. According to Deterville, the cultural interchange she witnessed at home expanded her knowledge of the world and precipitated the beginning of an internationally minded career.
Deterville, who studied abroad at Waseda University in Tokyo, hopes to be appointed to a foreign service officer position in Japan.
“As I gain experience and rank, I hope to be recognized for my commitment to ensure U.S. national security and be appointed as the first female African-American U.S. Ambassador to Japan,” Deterville said in the news release.