A University at Buffalo senior, who aims to be a US diplomat, has been selected as UB’s first recipient of the lucrative, far-reaching Charles B. Rangel Fellowship for International Affairs.
Sophie May, who expects to graduate from University at Buffalo with degrees in French and Political Science and a minor in History, will receive the full range of benefits from the Wrangel Fellowship. These include up to $24,000 per year to fund tuition and fees for a master’s degree in international affairs, and $18,000 per year for living expenses, as well as assistance in preparing for a diplomatic career with the Department of State.
The award also includes a 10-week internship on Capitol Hill and a 10-week external internship at a US Embassy or Consulate during the summer between May 1 and 2 at the Graduate School.
She was one of 45 students selected this academic year to receive the fellowship.
“I have dreamed of working in diplomacy since I began my internship at the Society for Diplomatic Studies and Training in Arlington, Virginia, in the summer of 2020,” says May, a graduate of St. Mary’s High School in Lancaster.
During this training, I interviewed Foreign Service officers and learned first-hand about careers in the US diplomatic corps.
“This led me to wanting a job as an official in the diplomatic corps,” she says. “The Rangel Fellowship made this possible.”
After two years of postgraduate studies, in addition to internships and professional development opportunities, May plans to become a career in the diplomatic corps in 2024.
The fellowship bears the name of Charles Rangel, the second longest serving House of Representatives at the time of his retirement, and served continuously from 1971 to 2017.
“This fellowship has allowed me to achieve my greatest career goals while at the same time pursuing other great opportunities along the way,” May says. “I am so grateful for the opportunity to utilize my unique skills and talents in the service of the nation.
“Send a big thank you to family, friends, professors, and the scholarship office at the University at Buffalo.”
May is the latest success story from the UB Fellowships and Scholarships Office, which has mentored, encouraged and assisted dozens of promising UB students who have been awarded national and international scholarships and fellowships.
“The Rangel Fellowship will transform Sophie’s life and is well suited to her academic and professional goals,” says Megan Stewart, Director of the Office of Fellowships and Scholarships. “It is committed to serving our country and diversifying the foreign service.”
May, who says she admires the career of Madeleine Albright, the first US Secretary of State who served from 1997 to 2001 under President Bill Clinton, says she will pursue a specialist degree in US national security related to Eastern Europe, Russia and Eurasia. In the summer of 2023, you will train at an embassy abroad.
“An important part of my application that I think convinced them to choose me was my ability to apply my unique experiences to a career in the diplomatic service,” May says.
In particular, she says, she was able to substantiate each of the thirteen dimensions described in the “Qualifications of a Foreign Service Officer” on the US State Department’s website in a written application.
“I also think my language skills (advanced knowledge of French, intermediate knowledge of Russian, beginner knowledge of German and Spanish) helped me stand out,” says May, an avid reader who loves learning languages, yoga and travel.
“My passion for reading made me curious to learn more about the world around me, and it led to my love of travel, which eventually led me to become a Foreign Service Officer (FSO),” May says. “I love learning languages, but I also love sharing that passion with others.”
She says her “absolute favorite thing in the world” is her current job teaching French to children at Alliance Française.