State Dept. Honor Turns Student’s ‘dream into a reality’

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Education

Due to a highly competitive U.S. State Department program, a University of Illinois at Chicago Honors College senior is one step closer to fulfilling a family and personal aspiration –to become a diplomat. Christopher Kooy, who is dual majoring in political science and Spanish in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, has been named one of 30 national recipients of the Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Graduate Fellowship for International Studies. The Rangel program, which is administered by Howard University’s Ralph J. Bunche International Affairs Center, provides up to $37,500 annually for two years of graduate study in international affairs or another field related to the work of the U.S. Foreign Service. Kooy will start the program this summer with an internship working for a member of Congress on Capitol Hill. Kooy, a native of Dixon, Illinois, has family roots in Peru. His maternal grandfather moved to Lima as a young boy to learn Spanish and get a job in construction to support his family. His mother was born and raised there and eventually pursued a foreign policy career. Due to Peru’s violent civil war, which lasted from 1980 to 2000, his family migrated to northern Illinois, where he was born as a first-generation Peruvian-American.

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - EducationDuring the summer between his first and second year of graduate school, he will participate in a second internship, this time based abroad in a U.S. embassy. After completing graduate school, the Rangel program and Foreign Service entry requirements, he will serve for a minimum of five years as a Foreign Service Officer. Kooy hopes to be involved in human rights policy as a political officer, with a particular focus on Latin America. His ambitions for a career in the region involve addressing indigenous rights issues, particularly involving land access and ownership, cultural and linguistic preservation, political rights and socioeconomic inclusion. While at UIC, he has been heavily involved in extracurricular activities and community service, such as campus ministry and AmeriCorps Illinois JusticeCorps. The fellowship program is named for Charles B. Rangel, who retired in Dec. 2016 after 23 terms and 46 years representing the people of New York City as a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

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