French and Political Science double major Sophie May has won a Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellowship beginning in Fall 2022! The Rangel Program selects outstanding Fellows annually in a highly competitive nationwide process and supports them through two years of graduate study, internships, mentoring, and professional development activities. At the conclusion of two years of study, Fellows are expected to have obtained a degree in international affairs or another area of relevance to the work of the Foreign Service (curriculum below) at a graduate school approved by the Rangel Program. How did she do it? Read on...
When I came to UB as a Political Science and French major without knowing a word of French,
a lot of people thought I was crazy. I was told over and over again that I wouldn’t be able to
graduate in time. However, I understood that if I wanted to pursue my dream career in
diplomacy, knowledge of a foreign language was imperative. I had always wanted to learn
French, so I thought college presented the ideal time to start.
I made great progress in my French studies at UB. At the end of my first year, I did an intensive
summer immersion program in Chicoutimi, Quebec that improved my language capabilities
more than I thought possible in a summer. Upon return to UB in the fall, I started in my role as a
College Ambassador for the Romance Languages Department and founded the UB French Club.
Both of these experiences allowed me to exercise my French skills outside of the classroom and
connect with students with similar interests.
The summer following my second year, I started interning at the Association for Diplomatic
Studies and Training (ADST) in Arlington, Virginia. I had many tasks, such as writing articles on
diplomatic history, assisting in research projects, and managing the organization’s social media
feed, but my favorite was interviewing Foreign Service Officers. This exposed me to the type of
work done in the Foreign Service, and it led me to desire this career for myself.
After my internship at ADST, I tried to get as much experience as possible relevant to a career in
the Foreign Service. I interned at the Hudson Institute, where I did research on European and
American grand strategy and translated historical documents into English. I became a Research
Assistant in both the UB Political Science and Romance Language Departments, and took on
another leadership role as the Vice President of the UB Political Science Association.
At the beginning of my senior year, I applied to the Charles B. Rangel International Affairs
Fellowship. While waiting to hear back, I stayed busy, obtaining internships at both the National
Defense University and the Joint Baltic American National Committee. After a rigorous final
round selection process, I was notified that I had received the fellowship in December 2021.
I am beyond honored for having been given this opportunity. The fellowship will support me
through two years of graduate school, supply me with internships on both Capitol Hill and at an
embassy abroad, and match me with a mentor in the Foreign Service. Upon completion of the
program, I will become a U.S. diplomat in summer 2024, allowing me to finally fulfill my
greatest professional goal. I am so grateful for all the help UB has supplied along the way,
especially the faculty and staff in RLL who have made me feel welcome from my first day. I
can’t wait to start this next chapter of my life!--Sophie May