Published August 14, 2018
Count senior Daniel K. Courteau among those UB students who scored an academic experiential learning experience this summer that was as rewarding and enriching as it was fun.
Courteau is the first UB student chosen to take part in the Charles B. Rangel Summer Enrichment Program, a six-week session designed to promote diversity in the U.S. foreign service by introducing students from diverse backgrounds to a variety of careers in international affairs.
Courteau, 21, an Honors College scholar and double major in international studies and economics with a minor in Spanish, spent six weeks in Washington, D.C., as one of 15 “Rangel Scholars” in a program funded by the Department of State.
Administered by Howard University, the program is named for retired Congressman Charles B. Rangel, the first African-American to head the powerful Ways and Means Committee, which oversees international trade, health care, economic policy and other major political issues.
“This was very much a stepping-off point for me, a launching pad,” says Courteau, the son of Kevin and Rosario Courteau of the Rochester suburb of Walworth. “I can see myself in 30 years looking back, and if I had to identify a point or experience that shaped my future path, I would look to this six weeks with the Rangel program.”
The Rangel program includes an academic component, through which Courteau and the 14 other Rangel Scholars took courses at Howard University in professional writing, international economics and the history of U.S. foreign policy.
In addition, his six weeks in Washington included numerous activities outside the classroom, including professional development workshops, panel discussions, and visits to government and non-governmental organizations.
In particular, the 15 Rangel Scholars visited the United States Institute of Peace, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Chemonics, the World Bank, the International Organization for Migration, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Capitol Hill and facets of the Department of Defense, as well as the state department.
During panel discussions and site visits, the 15 undergraduate students from college and universities across the country gained what Courteau calls invaluable insight into different careers in international affairs from practitioners with each respective organization. Courteau says the 15 scholars learned life lessons and practical knowledge from the panelists, who shared their wisdom and experience in these question-and-answer sessions.
The Rangel Scholars also were able to do extensive networking, Courteau says. “We were assured that we could expect continued support, even after completion of the program,” he adds.
Highlights of the six-week program included cohort-building with the other Rangel Scholars, as well as on-site visits, especially visits to the Department of State and United States Agency for International Development.
Meeting the high-level officials and ambassadors — both retired and serving — was particular rewarding for someone like himself, who aspires to a career in foreign service, Courteau says, adding he will always remember witnessing the swearing in of Brian A. Nichols as ambassador to Zimbabwe, which took place in the Harry S. Truman Building — home of the state department — in the Washington neighborhood of Foggy Bottom.
The swearing-in ceremony was not on the scholars’ official schedule, but when the opportunity to attend came up, program organizers were able to get the students into the ceremony.
“It was a very rare experience,” Courteau says. “It was pretty cool for me personally, since my career goal is to be a foreign service officer. So to see someone who has worked as a foreign service officer and made his way to a foreign ambassador position was inspiring beyond words.”
Elizabeth Colucci, director of UB’s Office of Fellowships and Scholarships, says Courteau’s experience was a perfect example of the kind of valuable summer experiences available for promising students.
“We’re really pleased that Daniel was able to spend his summer as a Rangel summer program participant,” Colucci says. “There are many opportunities for enriching summer experiences for students at UB, including the Rangel program, the US-UK summer Fulbright and the Critical Language Scholarship abroad.
“The UB Office of Fellowships and Scholarships assists students in finding opportunities that match their personal and professional goals.”
Courteau, who returns to UB this September to finish his undergraduate degree, calls his experience as a Rangel Scholar “truly an important milestone in my journey to realizing my career and life goals. I cannot speak highly enough for this program and what it has done for me and the other Rangel Scholars.
“I also hope to pay it forward and push other students interested in careers in international affairs to apply in the future.”