January 9, 2018 – Two Georgetown students and an alumna are among a group of only 30 students and college graduates selected nationwide for the highly competitive 2018 Rangel Graduate Fellowship.
Alumna Marta Aparicio (C’14) of Providence, Rhode Island; Kala Deterville (C’18) of Queens, New York; and Sofia Gomez (SFS’18) of Hanover, New Hampshire, have received the fellowship, which provides financial support for two years of graduate study, internships, mentoring and professional development leading to careers in the Foreign Service.
Georgetown tied this year with Florida State University as the top producer of Rangel Fellows in the country.
‘Efficacy of Giving’
"Having three fellows this year primarily testifies to each of their extraordinary qualities,” says John Glavin, director of the Office of Fellowships, Awards and Research for Undergraduates. “Once again, we see the ongoing power of the Jesuit ideal, training men and women who will work not only for their own success, but also for the wellbeing of humankind.”
Aparicio, who graduated from Georgetown College with a double major in sociology and government, says she was inspired to pursue a career in the Foreign Service after a diplomat from the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City granted her a visa to reunite with her parents after 11 years.
A first-generation student, Aparicio came to the United States 15 years ago from Guatemala without her parents and the visa allowed her to reunite with her family in the United States.
“I know the efficacy of giving and receiving help,” she says.
While at Georgetown, Aparicio assisted applicants as part of the financial aid peer counseling group, coached fellow students as a mentor in the Georgetown Scholarship Program and welcomed new students to campus as a coordinator for the Preparing to Excel Program.
After graduating, she taught English as a second language in Miami and mentored unaccompanied children and refugees as a volunteer for three years. She now works as an employment case manager for the Providence Housing Authority in Rhode Island.
"It will be a privilege to continue being an active citizen as a U.S. diplomat representing America and promoting its national interests abroad,” she says.
Deterville, a Japanese and government double major, says her interest in other cultures began when her family started hosting foreign exchange students.
“We have had about 15 to 20 international students who lived at our home and went to an English school,” Deterville explains. “Students from France, Spain, Brazil, Africa, Korea, Japan, Mexico, everywhere. This experience really broadened my understanding of other cultures and how to communicate my own culture.”
While at Georgetown, she interned for Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-New York) (G’94) and worked in the Executive Office of the President of the United States during the Obama administration.
“Being here in D.C. provides a lot of opportunities,” says Deterville, who hopes to use the Rangel Fellowship in Japan as a Foreign Service officer after graduate school. “D.C. is just the perfect location to have academic and professional opportunities and to take classes from distinguished professors.”
She traveled abroad her junior year to study at Waseda University in Tokyo, thanks in part to the Boren and Gilman scholarships she received in 2015.
“As I gain experience and rank, I hope to be recognized for my commitment to ensure U.S. national security and be appointed as the first female African American U.S. Ambassador to Japan," Deterville says.
Gomez, an international politics major, spent a month during the summer teaching English in China and another month managing media requests for the mayor’s office in St-Omer, France.
This past fall, she interned in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs in the Office of Press and Public Diplomacy at the State Department.
“I had always known I wanted to go into the Foreign Service, as early as high school,” Gomez says. “The U.S. government, along with the State Department, helped my dad, a political refugee from Cuba, restart his life here in the 1960s. On my mom’s side, my grandfather was a police officer, so public service was always on my mind.”
More to Learn
She credits the Georgetown community for helping her learn how to make the most of opportunities in her desired field.
Gomez, who is pursuing a certificate in Arab Studies at Georgetown, hopes to work as a Foreign Service officer in the Middle East.
“At the age of 17 I went to Jordan for one month, and I have been interested in the region ever since,” Gomez says. “Every time I take a class on some aspect of Middle Eastern culture or politics or history, I am reminded of how much more I can still learn.”