By Katherine Dagand and Gisela Valencia
FIU students continue to achieve national recognition. Most recently, nine current graduate students and recent alumni were awarded prestigious fellowships that assist them in graduate school or further their careers in U.S. foreign policy, service and government leadership.
The Panthers represent a variety of disciplines across the university, ranging from political science and global affairs to public health, health services administration, computer science, physics and creative writing. Three were Intelligence Community - Centers for Academic Excellence (IC-CAE) scholars with FIU's Jack D. Gordon Institute for Public Policy.
Charles B. Rangel Graduate Fellowship
Max Ulloa and Brandon Lee were selected as fellows for the Charles B. Rangel Graduate Fellowship. The Rangel Graduate Fellowship aims to “prepare outstanding young people for careers in the Foreign Service of the U.S. Department of State in which they can help formulate, represent and implement U.S. foreign policy.”
The program supports fellows through two years of graduate study, internships, mentoring and professional development activities.
Lee and Ulloa were selected as national finalists and are two of only 45 recipients of this prestigious scholarship. Lee is an Honors College student majoring in international relations and political science with a minor in economics and business analytics. His transformational experiences as an IC-CAE scholar and his time interning in D.C. at the Department of Treasury “fueled his desire” for a future in foreign service.
“Representing the United States abroad has always been a career aspiration of mine. Programs at FIU provided in-depth mentorship and network development, which strengthened my professional development and helped me earn internships at the U.S. Treasury Department and the U.S. State Department,” Lee said.
Ulloa, also an IC-CAE scholar, heard about the fellowship through friends in his Model UN team. He credits his experiences as a Model UN delegate and a Diplomacy Lab researcher with expanding his knowledge and giving him the confidence to join the workforce. Ulloa aspires to study law and diplomacy in graduate school, with concentrations in international negotiation and global organizations.
“[Becoming a] Foreign Service Officer will allow me to assist Americans abroad, serve on the frontlines of our foreign policy decisions and represent the multiculturalism of my Latino community all in the same job,” he said. Ulloa also received a National Security Studies certificate from the Gordon Institute.
Presidential Management Fellows Program
Seven current graduate students and recent alumni of grad programs were selected as finalists for the prestigious Presidential Management Fellows Program, a highly competitive government program that matches outstanding graduate students with experiences in federal leadership and management of public policies and programs. These fellows are often considered among the country's emerging leaders.
The program provides the ideal springboard to launch a career making a real impact, says one of the finalists, Mireya Jurado, a Ph.D. candidate at the Knight Foundation School of Computing and Information Sciences. Jurado studies cybersecurity and focuses on measuring how well different data protection mechanisms work in a number of areas ranging from medical, educational and financial records.
She learned about the fellowship through staff at FIU in Washington, D.C. and decided to apply. Her goal is to one day work at the federal government — "It's where you can do the most good for the most amount of people," she said. Now, she's one step closer, thanks to the fellowship program.
"This fellowship will give me the opportunity to make meaningful changes in people’s lives," she said. "It's a really good pathway into the federal government in terms of community, mentorship and education."
Graduate student Gustavo* received an undergraduate degree in finance and spent most of his career in the tech and business world, but he was always interested in foreign affairs and civic engagement. Losing a good friend to gun violence as well as the pandemic lockdown made him rethink his career path.
“Once the COVID lockdowns were in place, I asked myself, 'Where could I put my knowledge of history, politics, economics and current events to good use?' and decided to attend a graduate degree and to pursue opportunities in the civil service,” he said. He is currently enrolled in the Master of Arts in Global Affairs program.
For Mahmoud Kamel, the opportunity expanded his career horizons. The native of Egypt has taught at the university level in his home country and as an adjunct professor at FIU. He recently graduated from FIU in 2020 with his Ph.D. in experimental nuclear physics. He learned about the fellowship through FIU Handshake, the digital job search platform used by the university. The new career path seemed intriguing, so he applied.
"FIU helped me find this opportunity," he says, adding that he's eager to use his skills in physics as well as data analytics and data science for the greater good of the U.S. "I am very excited and proud to be a finalist for the fellowship. I'm ready to serve the American government."
The other current grad students or recent alumni of graduate programs who are finalists for the Presidential Management Fellowship are Stephanie Lima, Rose Lopez, Ariane Murgatroyd and Samantha*.
Students interested in scholarship opportunities like these or others should reach out to Prestigious Scholar Development at https://scholarships.fiu.edu.
*last name is omitted intentionally