The Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Program offers a prestigious graduate fellowship for people interested in foreign service through the U.S. Department of State. Last year, 800 people applied. 60 were interviewed. Emma Giron ’18, is one of only 30 who earned a Rangel Graduate Fellowship — the first from Willamette.
The fellowship funds a master’s program in a field related to public policy and includes living expenses as well as two paid summer internships: one working with Congress on international issues and another in an overseas embassy or consulate.
“It’s a dream come true — like winning the lottery,” said Giron, who didn’t think she’d have a shot at the fellowship. “I think I actually screamed when I read the email.”
Giron highlighted the support she had at Willamette, especially from her mentor and economics professor, Laura Taylor. “We’ve got a really great econ department — especially if you’re a woman,” said Giron. “They have a woman and economics book club that’s really a mentorship book club. Professor Knight and Professor Taylor would talk about the book and the challenges you’ll need to overcome as a woman studying economics."
“We started the book club as a way to help build community,” said Taylor. “We also wanted to get to know students better and to help them feel comfortable coming to us. We hope that students see us model tough conversations and to get them thinking about what they’ll have to navigate after graduation.”
“Emma had so much grit,” said Taylor, who wrote a letter of recommendation for Giron’s fellowship and grad school applications. “When she didn’t get it, she kept at it. She was able to absorb constructive criticism and figure it out.”
Giron had a tip for current students looking for fellowships like hers: Apply. And she’s taking her own advice, reaching for some big name grad schools with the Rangel Fellowship.
“I didn’t have great grades in high school, and I had a 3.6 during undergrad,“ said Giron. “For something this competitive, I thought I’d have to be a 4.0 student or go to some ivy league college. But with really hard work, great mentors and the right fit, you can be really competitive.”
For information about grants and scholarships, visit Willamette’s Office of Student Academic Grants and Awards’ Student Resources.