Lee-Ann Sims, a December 2018 graduate of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s College of Arts and Sciences, has been selected as a 2020 scholar for the Charles B. Rangel Graduate Fellowship program.
The Lincoln native and former global studies major is the second-ever Husker student to earn a Rangel fellowship, which seeks to mentor and support outstanding students to bring a more diverse perspective into the crafting and enacting of U.S. foreign policy.
Started in 2002 to honor Congressman Charles Rangel, managed by the Ralph J. Bunche International Affairs Center at Howard University and funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of State, the fellowship provides substantial support to its recipients. In addition to financial support for a two-year master’s program in a field of study relevant to their chosen career in the State Department, fellows receive internship opportunities, including a summer in Washington, D.C., and an overseas internship at a U.S embassy or consulate; mentoring by a Foreign Service Officer; and entry into the Foreign Service contingent upon successful completion of the program. The award is valued at $95,000 over a two-year period.
Sims said she applied for the award because she is interested in bringing together her interests in language, culture, global security and foreign policy.
“As the daughter of a Jamaican immigrant mother and a black-American father, I know firsthand what it means to live at the edge of cultures, to recognize and respect sociological differences, and to shoulder the responsibility that comes with the privilege of possessing a number of unique socio-cultural identities,” she said. “Negotiating borders and boundaries, both visible and invisible, is for me second nature. It is also why diplomacy features prominently in my future career plans.”
Sims plans to become a Foreign Service Officer in Central Asia or Eastern Europe. She said the thing she’s most looking forward to about the program is meeting and collaborating with people who share her interest in other cultures and a commitment to service.
This fall, Sims was awarded a Fulbright fellowship to teach English in Kazakhstan for a full year. She is also serving as a City Year AmeriCorps member in Washington, D.C., where she works at an under-resourced school to provide academic support and community service to students and staff.
Sims will defer her Rangel award to be able to participate in the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship. Upon her return, she will attend graduate school and begin the two-year process to complete the Rangel award and start her career in the Foreign Service.
Sims credits Nebraska’s Emira Ibrahimpasic, assistant professor of practice and assistant director of global studies, and Laura Damuth, director of national and international fellowships, for helping her apply for the Rangel and Fulbright awards.
“They saw potential in me and supported my dreams and goals,” she said. “I really would not be where I am today without them. They don’t get enough credit for what they do.”