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Fana HaileSelassie and Kayla Smith Named Rangel Foreign Affairs Fellows

January 2021

Fana HaileSelassie, C’2021, president of the Spelman College Student Government Association, and Kayla Smith, C'2021, founder and director of The Blue Record, Spelman's podcast, have both been selected to participate in the 2021 Charles B. Rangel Fellowship program. Both students are international studies majors.

Administered by Howard University, the fellowship is a U.S. Department of State program created to promote a positive U.S. presence in the world that reflects and respects diversity.

Fana HaileSelassieHaileSelassie said she’s enthusiastic about the fellowship and sees her acceptance as an opportunity to influence her Spelman sisters and other Black women to pursue careers in foreign affairs.

"Born in Nairobi, Kenya, diplomacy became personal for me when a U.S. Foreign Service Officer in Addis Ababa became a source of comfort and knowledge for me and my mother after political turmoil closed communication channels to my father," she said.

"People have to be informed to care, and as an American diplomat and Charles B. Rangel Fellow, I hope to cultivate a sense of compassion for those who don’t share our borders or culture."

This will not be the first time that HaileSelassie or Smith have participated in the Rangel program. In 2019, they both participated in the Summer Enrichment Program in Washington, D.C.  As participants, they benefited from academic seminars and gained exposure to different career tracks affiliated with international affairs and public policy.

Kayla SmithAs a Social Justice Fellow, Smith says she uses her writing as an advocacy tool to showcase people’s truths to encourage difficult dialogues and the complexities of global issues.

Before attending Spelman in 2017, she studied abroad in Antigua and Barbuda in Spring 2016, for six months, in which she discovered her passion for gaining proximity to truths through an arts lens rooted in research, writing, and civic engagement. Now, as an Honors student at Spelman, Smith continues to put the arts in conversation with diplomacy through her research endeavors.

Currently, her research interests uncover how Afro-Cuban artists impacted U.S. diplomatic relations with Cuba during the 1950s-1980s. With policy interests in human rights and foreign affairs.

About the Rangel Graduate Program

The Rangel Graduate Fellowship is a program that aims to attract and prepare outstanding young people for careers in the Foreign Service of the U.S. Department of State in which they can help formulate, represent and implement U.S. foreign policy.

The Program selects outstanding Rangel Fellows annually in a highly competitive nationwide process and supports them through two years of graduate study, internships, mentoring, and professional development activities. This program encourages the application of members of minority groups historically underrepresented in the Foreign Service, women, and those with financial need. Fellows who successfully complete the program and Foreign Service entry requirements will receive appointments as Foreign Service Officers, in accordance with applicable law and State Department policy.

Rangel Fellows are committed to serving their country and promoting positive change globally. Individuals who have successfully completed the Rangel Program are now making a difference in countries throughout the world, including Colombia, Mexico, Panama, Venezuela, South Africa, Nigeria, Angola, China, Korea, Bangladesh, Spain, and Ireland.

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