2021 Robertson Fellows committed to public service
As an undergraduate, Paul-Donavon Murray took advantage of
leadership roles, including a congressional internship, that exposed him to
national policy making and local government.
Meanwhile, in Nevsehir, Turkey, Jacob Emont worked as a
Fulbright English teaching assistant and then directed programs for the Global
Fairness Initiative, a nonprofit devoted to uplifting the world’s working poor.
This fall, Murray and Emont joined the graduate student
ranks at the Maxwell School, pursing dual master’s degrees in public
administration and international relations. Both are Robertson Foundation for
Robertson awards are among the most generous and prestigious
available to professional graduate students at the Maxwell School, covering
full tuition for two years of study, a living stipend, health insurance and
assistance in finding a summer internship. In exchange, Fellows agree to work
in the U.S. federal government for three of the first seven years following
graduation. Since the program began in 2010, the program has funded 33
“The experiential opportunities I had as an undergraduate
prepared me for the courses I’m now taking at Maxwell,” says Murray.
“Everything has come full circle because I can build upon those experiences and
explore the complexities behind the policy-making and the implementation
process of federal and local government decisions."
Murray attended Honors College of Miami-Dade College and
transferred to Swarthmore College, where he received a B.A. in political
science with a minor in peace and conflict studies in May 2021. He was a
chapter leader for the United Nations Association of the United States of
America, as well as a student government senator and a board member for the
Rotaract Club. Additionally, he was named a Future Leaders Fellow for the
African American Mayors Association, and he held a summer internship with the
Congressional Black Caucus Foundation for the then-U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge
The congressional internship introduced Murray to policy
formation at the federal level. “Preparing memos and executive summaries about
child poverty, U.S.-Latin America relations, global nutrition and migrant
detention centers allowed me to research issues that I care about,” he says.
Emont is a 2015 summa cum laude graduate of George
Washington University, where he studied political science and minored in
Arabic. He took the Fulbright post in Turkey after graduation and went on to
work with the Global Fairness Initiative, an organization that promotes a more
equitable, sustainable approach to economic development by advancing fair
wages, equal access to markets and balanced public policy to generate
opportunity and end the cycle of poverty.
“This work included efforts to extend social protections to
informal workers in North Africa and eliminate forced, bonded and child labor
in Nepal’s brick-making industry,” Emont explains, adding that he is looking
forward to further exploring international economics and labor issues and the
larger systems and forces that affect them.
The Robertson Foundation for Government (RFG) exists to
inspire the best and brightest U.S. graduate students to pursue long-term
federal government careers in foreign policy, national security and
international affairs. Its overarching goal is to strengthen the government of
the United States and increase its ability and determination to defend and
extend freedom throughout the world. The Maxwell School is one of four schools
that partner with RFG on the fellowship program.
After graduation, Murray aspires to a federal government
position that fosters peace and stabilization operations throughout the world. Emont
aspires to a career that enables him to advance the rights of global workers.
All told, 33 Robertson Fellows have entered the Maxwell
School since 2010 when the School’s partnership with the foundation began.