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KU senior earns university's first Rangel Fellowship

Fri, 11/16/2018

LAWRENCE — A senior from Raytown, Missouri, is the University of Kansas’ first Charles B. Rangel Fellow and will receive benefits of up to $95,000 to prepare for a career in the U.S. Foreign Service.

Constanza Castro Zúñiga is majoring in political science and minoring in economics, and she was one of 30 fellows selected from a pool of 819 applicants from around the country.

Born in Chile, Castro Zúñiga immigrated to the United States at the age of 3 and is now a naturalized citizen. The Rangel Fellowship Program through the U.S. Department of State aims to enhance the excellence and diversity of the U.S. Foreign Service by supporting extraordinary students who want to pursue a career in the State Department.

“It is my greatest honor to receive the Rangel Fellowship and to have the opportunity to live out my dream of serving the nation as a Foreign Service officer,” Castro Zúñiga said. “This would not have been possible for me as a first-generation, immigrant student of color without all the support I have received from my family, friends and support network here at KU, and I feel so incredibly blessed and grateful.”

DeAngela Burns-Wallace, KU vice provost of undergraduate studies, served in the Foreign Service before beginning her academic career. She has also served as Castro Zúñiga’s mentor for the past two years.

“I have had the pleasure to observe that Constanza’s strengths lie in her feverish commitment to changing the world one relationship at a time,” Burns-Wallace said. “The Rangel Fellowship is an ideal opportunity for her to continue her commitment to public service.”

Fellows are supported through two years of graduate study, internships, mentoring and professional development activities. The fellowship provides benefits during a two-year period for tuition, room, board, books and mandatory fees related to graduate programs in areas of relevance to the Foreign Service. 

Upon successfully completing the program and Foreign Service entry requirements, Castro Zúñiga will become a diplomat working in the U.S. State Department. Patricia Scroggs, director of the Rangel Fellowship Program, said she was thrilled to have Castro Zúñiga as a fellow.

“She is our first fellow from the University of Kansas, and I am confident that the education and skills she gained there helped her compete in this rigorous selection process,” Scroggs said. “These same attributes will propel her success in graduate school and the Foreign Service.  I look forward to seeing all that she will accomplish. I hope other KU students will follow Constanza's lead into this rewarding career of international service."  

Castro Zúñiga worked with KU’s Office of Fellowships in preparing her application. Students who are interested in applying for the Rangel or similar awards in the future are encouraged to contact the office by email at fellowships@ku.edu.

Constanza Castro Zúñiga is the daughter of Ivonne Allen and Richard Allen and Andro Castro and Monica Rodriguez, and she is a graduate of Raytown South High School. She has been involved in many academic enrichment programs at KU, including the federally funded TRIO and McNair programs, KU OPTIONS, Hawk Link, the University Honors Program and the University Scholars Program. Her campus activities include Student Senate, Multicultural Student Government and the Latin American Student Union. In fall 2017 she studied abroad in Spain. In summer 2018, she was selected for the competitive Public Policy and International Affairs Program’s Junior Summer Institute at Princeton University.

Photo credit: Egan Jiminez



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