FIU alumnus earns Capitol Hill internship experience

Abdel Perera, ‘11, is headed to Capitol Hill in May.

The School of International and Public Affairs alumnus has been awarded a 2012 Rangel International Affairs Graduate Fellowship. Perera was among 20 national finalists competing for the prestigious award.

“I was very excited to represent FIU in the finals,” Perera said. “I did a few mock interviews with administrators and sessions with the Center for Excellence in Writing to prepare me. That helped calm me down, so I wasn’t too nervous. The competition was fierce, we met with candidates from Harvard, Georgetown and American University, but I felt prepared.”

Perera attends the Rangel Fellowship selection process at Howard University in mid-March.

Each fellowship award is valued at more than $90,000. The funds provide support for a paid internship on Capitol Hill, two years of graduate school, a paid internship abroad, professional development, and entry into the U.S. Foreign Service.

“I don’t know where I’ll be placed for the D.C. internship yet, but I’m really hoping for a position with a congressperson from Florida or Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen,” Perera said.  “She has a strong presence in foreign affairs and she also graduated from FIU. But I’m open to anything.”

Perera will live and work in Washington D.C. from May to August to complete the domestic internship component. He hopes to start his master’s degree later this fall in the FIU Master of Arts in Global Governance (MAGG) program.

“I want to use my education and position as a foreign or consular officer to protect U.S. interests abroad and put an end to genocide,” Perera said. “I think there’s a major lack of public awareness on the atrocities committed to human rights on a global scale. I want to raise that awareness and help governments prevent that.”

The Rangel Graduate Fellowship is a program that aims to attract and prepare young adults for careers in the Foreign Service in which they can help formulate, represent and implement U.S. foreign policy.