Published January 7, 2022
A UB senior who aims to be an American diplomat has been named UB's first recipient of the far-reaching and lucrative Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellowship.
Sophie May, who expects to graduate from UB with degrees in French and political science and a minor in history, will receive the full array of benefits from the Rangel fellowship. These include up to $24,000 annually to fund tuition and fees toward a master’s degree in international affairs, and an $18,000 stipend per year for living expenses, as well as assistance preparing for a Foreign Service career with the Department of State.
The award also includes a 10-week internship on Capitol Hill and a 10-week overseas internship at a U.S. embassy or consulate during the summer between May’s first and second years of graduate school.
She was one of 45 students selected this academic year to receive the fellowship.
“I have dreamt of a career in diplomacy ever since I started interning at the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training in Arlington, Va., in summer 2020,” says May, a graduate of St. Mary’s High School in Lancaster.
During this internship, she interviewed foreign service officers and learned firsthand about careers in the American Foreign Service.
“This led me to desire a career as a foreign service official myself,” she says. “The Rangel fellowship has made this possible.”
After two years of graduate school, as well as internships and professional development opportunities, May plans to become a foreign service officer in 2024.
The fellowship bears the name of Charles Rangel, the second-longest serving member of the House of Representatives at the time of his retirement, serving continuously from 1971 to 2017.
“This fellowship has allowed me to fulfill my greatest professional goals while simultaneously pursuing other incredible opportunities along the way,” says May. “I am extremely grateful to have been given the opportunity to utilize my unique skills and talents in service of the nation.
“I’m sending out a big thanks to family, friends, professors and the UB scholarship office.”
May is the latest success story from UB’s Office of Fellowships and Scholarships, which has mentored, encouraged and assisted scores of promising UB students who have earned national and international scholarships and fellowships.
“The Rangel fellowship will be life-changing for Sophie and is a perfect fit for her academic and career goals,” says Megan Stewart, director of the Office of Fellowships and Scholarships. “She is committed to serving our country and diversifying the Foreign Service.”
May, who says she admires the career of Madeleine Albright, the first female U.S. secretary of state who served from 1997 to 2001 under President Bill Clinton, says she will pursue a degree specializing in U.S. national security pertaining to Eastern Europe, Russia and Eurasia. In summer 2023, she will intern at an embassy abroad.
“An important part of my application that I believe persuaded them to select me was my ability to apply my unique experiences to a career in the Foreign Service,” says May.
In particular, she says, she was able to demonstrate on a written application each of the 13 dimensions explained in the Foreign Service Officer Qualifications on the U.S. Department of State website.
“I also believe that my language skills (advanced knowledge of French, intermediate knowledge of Russian and beginner knowledge of German and Spanish) helped me stand out,” says May, an avid reader who loves learning languages, yoga and traveling.
“My passion for reading made me curious to learn more about the world around me, and this led to my love of traveling, which ultimately drove my desire to become an FSO (foreign service officer),” says May. “I love learning languages, but I also adore sharing this passion with others.”
She says her “absolute favorite thing in the world” is her current job teaching children French at Alliance Française.