October, 2010A new foundation supporting top U.S. graduate students who plan to pursue federal government careers in national security, foreign policy and international affairs has named 11 students at four universities as its first class of fellows. The Robertson Fellows all will receive full scholarships and full internship stipends from the Robertson Foundation for Government and have committed to work for the federal government for a minimum of three of their first five years after graduation.
“It is my family’s hope and expectation,” said Robertson Foundation for Government (RFFG) Chairman William Robertson, “that most of the Robertson Fellows will choose federal government service as a career. We will encourage them to do so and support them in that direction. With the many challenges the United States faces, the federal government needs all of the professional talent it can muster. Over time, our family hopes to steer hundreds of America’s ‘best and brightest’ into this critical talent pool.”
The family foundation has committed $50 million to the new program and will expand it over time, a spokesman said.
“The Robertson Fellowship program is modeled after the Service Academies in some ways. After graduation, Robertson Fellows are required to serve in a federal government agency or department for three years,” said RFFG Executive Director Timothy (Bo) Kemper. “A commitment to service is integral to the program.”
Kemper encouraged federal recruiters to contact the foundation to discuss such opportunities.
Robertson agreed: “Hundreds of very bright students graduate from U.S. colleges and universities each year. We are interested only in those who are seriously interested in federal government careers. That is why we require the Robertson Fellows to spend at least three of their first five years following completion of their programs working for the government.”
The initial class of Robertson Fellows includes four first-year graduate students at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy, two at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, two at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School, and three at the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies at the University of California, San Diego. Additional universities will be added in the future – as will a second class of students at the four existing schools, to be named at the start of the 2011-2012 academic year.
Based in Juno Beach, Florida, the Robertson Foundation for Government is a nonprofit family foundation started by the children and other relatives of the late Charles and Marie Robertson, philanthropists who in 1961 donated $35 million to start a program with a similar objective at a prominent ivy-league university.
In a statement announcing the new program, the Robertson family said: “We are committed to making our parents’ vision a reality: helping the United States navigate the difficult foreign policy shoals that lie ahead by preparing some of America’s most gifted and highly motivated students for federal government careers in foreign policy, national security, trade and related disciplines”.
“The Robertson Foundation for Government is not looking for students who see government service as an option; it is looking for students who see government service as a potential calling. It is not looking for students who see a short-term stint in government as a stepping stone to something else; it is looking for students committed to government service as a career. And it is not looking for students who will be comfortable as anonymous cogs in a giant machine; it is looking for students who hope to become tomorrow’s foreign-policy leaders and help our country formulate and implement policy.”
“What makes this program unique,” the family said, “is that we’re virtually the only private foundation in the United States to be in this space, supporting students interested in pursuing federal government careers in foreign policy, national security and international affairs.
“In the next 10 years there will be a huge outflow of public employees taking retirement. Our country needs to fill those positions with top-quality candidates. The new program will enable top graduate students at some of America’s best universities to pursue government careers without being saddled with tens of thousands of dollars of debt.”
The inaugural class of Robertson Fellows includes the following:
University of Maryland School of Public Policy
Matthew Southerland, a graduate of Georgetown University, has studied in China and Taiwan and has spent the last three years working on Asia-related issues as a research assistant at the RAND Corporation.
James Trent, a graduate of Juniata College, Huntington, PA, has interned at the Embassy of Afghanistan and has conducted independent research on a variety of issues relating to national and regional security.
Christopher Van Vorhis studied abroad at Fudan University in Shanghai as an undergraduate at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, St. Mary’s City, MD. After graduation he continued his studies at Dalian University in Liaoning, China.
Kira West, a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, worked as a government affairs intern with the Council on American Islamic Relations in Philadelphia and on educational campaigns with the Student Anti-Genocide Coalition (STAND).
Southerland’s hometown is Bethesda, Md.; Trent’s is Frederick, Md.; Van Vorhis hails from Salisbury, Md.; and West comes from Melrose Park, Pa.
Syracuse University – Maxwell School
Charles DeLuca, another Georgetown University graduate, is pursuing a joint master’s in international relations and economics. His classmate Christopher Grant, a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, is pursuing a joint degree public administration and international relations.
DeLuca is from Deerfield, Mass. Grant’s hometown is Oakton, Va.
Tufts University – Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy
Christopher Murray, a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and Amy Truong, a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, in Hattiesburg, are both enrolled in Fletcher’s Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy (MALD) program. Murray will focus on national security and foreign policy, Truong on humanitarian affairs.
Murray is a native of Barre, Mass.; Truong hails from San Jose, Calif.
University of California, San Diego School of International Relations and Pacific Studies
Chas Culverwell, a graduate of Brigham Young University, has studied at Nanjing University in China and has worked as a Mandarin curriculum developer.
Katy Donovan, a graduate of Mills College, Oakland, Calif., has studied in Germany.
And Sharon McCoy, a University of Georgia alumna, has studied in Chile and interned with the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC.Culverwell’s hometown is Caliente, Nev.; Donovan hails from San Francisco, Calif., and McCoy is originally from Angeles City in the Philippines.