Robertson Fellows Named at Maxwell School

Robertson.jpgThe Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University has named its sixth cohort of Robertson Fellows, funded by the Robertson Foundation for Government (RFFG).  Kathleen Hurt of Chatham, New Jersey, and Ana Gabriela Monzon of College Station, Texas, began their graduate professional master's program studies at Maxwell this summer.  Both students are pursuing joint degrees in public administration and international relations.  A third fellow, Isidoro Ramirez, also of College Station, Texas, joined the cohort in the fall to pursue a joint degree in international relations and economics.  After graduation, the students will enter careers in public service with the United States government.

The Maxwell School is one of only five graduate schools to receive funding for the fellows program from the Robertson Foundation.  The nonprofit family foundation has a mission 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 aims to strengthen the federal government through this top-level talent.

The partnership between the Maxwell School and the Robertson Foundation formed five years ago, when the Foundation provided a grant that funds the educations of exceptional students focusing on public service careers.  Each year, the Maxwell School identifies two high-caliber U.S. graduate students to receive grants providing full tuition for two years of study, a living stipend and health insurance, and assistance in finding a summer internship.  Thanks to an RFFG matching grant, Maxwell also welcomes additional Robertson Fellows, and one of this year’s incoming fellows is funded in part by a major gift from Laura and Sean O’Keefe.  Sean O’Keefe ‘78 MPA, University Professor and the Howard G. and S. Louise Phanstiel Chair in Strategic Management and Leadership at Maxwell, supports this fellow to intern and conduct research in either Maxwell’s National Security Studies program or SU’s Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism.

This year's fellows - Kathleen Hurt, Ana Gabriela Monzon, and Isidoro Ramirez - were selected from nearly 20 highly qualified applicants to become the Maxwell School's third class of Robertson Fellows.  These students expressed a desire to work for the federal government in international affairs, and demonstrated the potential to thrive academically at the Maxwell School.

Hurt, a recent graduate of Amherst College, has held a lifelong love of German culture and language.  During her undergraduate career, she worked as a teaching assistant for the Amherst College German department and has also studied German at the Goethe Institute in Hamburg.  In the summer of 2014, she interned in the management office of the U.S. Embassy in Vienna. There, she was able to hone the concrete skills necessary in coordinating a U.S. government office abroad.  She believes that the completion of a joint MPA/IR degree at Maxwell will further build her skill set for a career in management with the federal government.

A Guatemalan American, Monzon received a B.A. in political science from Texas A&M University in 2011.  In 2012, she traveled to Brazil as a U.S. Fulbright researcher to investigate agricultural and food sector development in rural Brazil.  She has also completed research evaluation for developmental and adult basic education programs for the Public Policy Research Institute at Texas A&M University.  Most recently, Monzon served as program coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean with the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture.  There, she helped to institute and strengthen partnerships and programs that raise the living standards of food-insecure agricultural communities in the region.  Upon completion of her degrees at Maxwell, she aspires to focus on international development, targeting issues of world hunger and climate change, thereby promoting U.S. national security and prosperity through the strengthening of resilient societies worldwide.

Ramirez, this year’s Robertson-O’Keefe fellow, enlisted for six years with the U.S. Navy after high school, developing a passion for the study of international affairs, national security, and economics during that time.  A 2014 graduate of Southwestern University, he graduated cum laude with degrees in economics and political science.  In his undergraduate career, he studied Arabic and interned with both the Heritage Foundation and the Defense Intelligence Agency.  He has experience presenting research to the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank and also participated in the 2014 American Economics Association Summer Training Program.  With his interests in national security, the Middle East, and economics, Ramirez is focusing on a career supporting the U.S. Defense Department and its global operations.

"The Robertson Fellowship is such an incredible opportunity,” Hurt said. “The fellowship and the Robertson Foundation have allowed me to connect with both present and former fellows as well as a broader network of professional contacts, all of whom, like me, feel strongly about pursuing a career with the federal government.  I'm honored and humbled to be a fellow, and very, very grateful for the opportunities that it provides."

“I am honored to be named a Robertson Fellow,” states Monzon. “It has enabled me the opportunity to pursue two of Maxwell's rigorous academic programs, which will help prepare and qualify me for a career in international development in the federal government.”

Ramirez also wants to give back to his country following this opportunity.  “The fellowship is an excellent opportunity to serve my country and obtain an excellent education.  As an international relations and economics candidate, I can achieve my goals to work in the international arena with the help of the fellowship.  I am very grateful and excited to be a Robertson Fellow.”

Last year's graduating Robertson Fellows from Maxwell found internships in the federal government.  Both Ashley Carter Olsen and Justin Gradek spent the summer working at the U.S. Mission in Senegal for the Millennium Challenge Corporation.  Olsen supported the administration and implementation of project oversight systems related to the corporation’s compact agreements with the Government of Senegal, while Gradek supported the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on work related to the exploration and exploitation of the continent’s petrochemical reserves. 09/29/15