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 Government Fellows.

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 students.

Paul Donavon Murray“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 (D-Ohio).

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.

Jacob EmontEmont 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.

09/20/21