By Bridget Johnston || News Editor
Senior Sheldon Ruby was recently named a 2017 Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellow by the Ralph J. Bunche International Affairs Center at Howard University. This prestigious fellowship is awarded to only 30 students nationwide, and provides roughly $95,000 towards tuition costs for its recipients.
The Rangel Fellowship is named in honor of U.S. Rep. Charles B. Rangel, the second-longest serving member of the House of Representatives. The fellowship was founded and designed in order to diversify Foreign Service, and it’s known for highlighting the most promising students from across the country. The program provides funding for graduate school, an internship on Capitol Hill, and a placement in an American embassy anywhere in the world, all while covering living expenses and creating lasting contacts in Washington. After graduate school, all recipients commit to at least five years as a Foreign Service Officer and can be placed anywhere in the world.
As a Foreign Service Officer, Ruby will be one of countless individuals working hard hours to ensure that Americans abroad as well as American affairs are being taken care of. Ruby explains that he could be responsible for anything from tracking down a matching blood donor, to taking care of Americans in foreign prisons, to overseeing natural disaster relief efforts at the ground level.
Although Ruby admits that while at first glance he does not appear to be the picture of diversity, he’s actually the first in his family to attend college. In fact, Ruby feels that as a first-gen student, receiving such a prestigious fellowship only takes on added meaning.
Ruby explains, “With a lot of first-gen students, there’s a constant push to verify that we belong or deserve to be [at F&M]. Winning this [fellowship] proves that I deserve to be here… It’s a huge verification that I’ve done something great. It’s a huge honor.”
Following graduation in the spring, Ruby will spend his summer as an intern in Washington D.C. However he admits that his next steps depend largely on what graduate schools accept him, although hopes he will be able to attend Georgetown and enroll in their Masters program for Public Policy. In the meantime, Ruby is still waiting to hear back from a handful of additional Fulbright fellowship positions that would allow him to teach English in various countries around the globe.
Although these awards and opportunities seem impossible to achieve, Ruby explains that he is driven and motivated by a desire to help individuals who cannot necessarily defend themselves. Ruby says, “Where I come from, there is a heavy emphasis on right and wrong, appropriate and not appropriate, so when I find something that I think is wrong or that I disagree with, such as an injustice against first-gen students or low-income students, I do not stop until I can bring that into the light.”
During high school, Ruby participated in F&M’s College Prep Program, which aims to help underrepresented students attend college, and he proudly says that he will be “eternally indebted to Dr. Porterfield for having faith that he can succeed and get a higher education.” He explains that attending F&M and the opportunities he has had here have truly shaped him as a student. In particular, he points to his freshman year connections course, “Understanding Terrorism,” taught by Professor Kibbe, as well as Dr. Kollar’s class on International Politics.
Ruby is currently resisting the urge to coast through to graduation. Instead, he intends to take a full course load in the spring, as well as becoming a preceptor for a connections course. He is also excited to finish out his final semester by once again taking one of Professor Kibbe’s classes and hopes he will be able to take that as a chance to show just how much he has grown since taking her connections course in his first year.
Ruby is one of the founding members of a first-generation support club on campus, as well as a Kappa Sigma brother, a tour guide, and a former member of Ware Parliament. Ruby encourages students interested in foreign affairs to reach out to the many supportive professors in the Government Department, as well as to make an appointment with Dr. Cable to find out what fellowships and opportunities are out there.
Junior Bridget Johnston is the News Editor. Her email is email@example.com.