St. Paul, Minn. (Macalester College) – Hawi Tilahune ’16, of Minneapolis, Minn., was awarded a 2017 Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellowship following a highly competitive nationwide contest. The Rangel Fellowship, funded by the U.S. Department of State and managed by Howard University, supports extraordinary individuals who want to pursue a career as a Foreign Service Officer in the U.S. Department of State. The Rangel Fellowship will provide Tilahune with approximately $95,000 in benefits over a two year period, and give her the opportunity to represent her country overseas. She was one of only 30 fellows selected nationwide.
Tilahune graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in international studies (with honors) and political science with a concentration in African studies. She was also the recipient of one of Macalester’s top prizes for seniors, the Global Citizenship award.
As an undergraduate, she worked with the Red Cross as international services coordinator, interned with the African Diaspora Policy Centre as a peace-building intern and at Catholic Charities as a social justice intern. She also had the opportunity to study abroad in The Hague, Netherlands, where she conducted research on Oromo diaspora discourse in The Netherlands. In the summer of 2015, Tilahune participated in the Junior Summer Institute at Carnegie Mellon University with the Public Policy International Affairs (PPIA) program. In addition to being active on her campus serving as the co-chair of the AfriKa! Student Organization and student liaison to the Macalester College Board of Trustees, Tilahune received a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Research Fellowship. Through this fellowship, she traveled to Cape Town, South Africa, in January 2016 to learn more about the challenges of inequality there.
As a diplomat, Tilahune would like to create positive change by assuming leadership in policy discussions on U.S.-Africa relations.
“Through my service as a political officer, I want to support America’s partnership and collaboration with the next generation of Africa’s leaders,” said Tilahune. “Whether through providing training on key issues such as conflict resolution or through offering mentorship opportunities to anchor their ambition, I hope to create positive change in allying with the dreams of young people on the continent. I specifically plan to reinforce the work of U.S. embassies across Sub-Saharan Africa in their youth engagement and help bolster the impact of Embassy Youth Councils for greater dialogue and collaboration.”
Tilahune also wants to make significant change through public diplomacy. She anticipates establishing various artistic platforms by which young people can encounter different cultures and identities and build areas of mutual understanding.
“My involvement with the Afrikan! Chorus during my undergraduate career, performing a traditional Swazi wedding song or a Soweto-style gospel melody, has opened my eyes to the dynamic power of music in building bridges among divided communities,” she said.
Tilahune plans to pursue a graduate degree in international affairs or public policy, with an interest in conflict resolution and public diplomacy.
As part of the Rangel Program, Tilahune will work for a member of congress on international issues this summer. In summer 2018, the U.S. Department of State will send her overseas to work in a U.S. Embassy to get hands-on experience with U.S. foreign policy and the work of the Foreign Service.
The Rangel Program is a joint initiative between the U.S. State Department and Howard University that aims to enhance the excellence and diversity of the U.S. Foreign Service. Begun in 2003, the Rangel Fellowship Programselects outstanding young people each year from around the country who exhibit the ideal qualities of a Foreign Service Officer. Managed by the Ralph J. Bunche Center at Howard University, the Rangel Fellowship supports those selected through graduate school and professional development activities that prepare them for their careers as Foreign Service Officers. With the academic, professional and financial support from the program, Fellows now serve as diplomats around the world, contributing to a more diverse representation and effective execution of U.S. foreign policy.