Alumnus wins prestigious fellowship, will join U.S. Foreign Service

Publication Date

In two short years, Irving Cortes-Martinez ’19 will be a U.S. diplomat.

Irving Cortes-Martinez

His training begins this year with a Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellowship. Funded by the U.S. Department of State and administered by Howard University, it supports individuals who want to pursue a career in the Foreign Service of the U.S. Department of State.

“As a freshman, I was quickly drawn to diplomacy and international relations through Professor Angrist’s Model UN class,” said Cortes-Martinez, who majored in political science and Latin American & Caribbean studies with a minor in Africana studies. “I loved the course so much that I participated as a freshman, sophomore, and as a TA my junior year with Professor Seri.”

“My experiences abroad in Argentina, Senegal, Brazil, and D.C., also helped me develop a passion for cross-cultural exchange. With the help of Lynn Evans, I eventually applied to the Rangel Fellowship,” he continued. “Though I was not successful the first time, I persevered and applied again in 2021. I am very thankful for the resources and opportunities Union College provided me – including my experience in the AOP program – which influenced my decision to pursue a career as a diplomat.”

The fellowship will support Cortes-Martinez through a two-year master’s degree in an area of relevance to the Foreign Service. It will also provide extensive professional development opportunities, including internships, mentors and skills training. He will intern with a member of Congress on issues related to foreign affairs in summer 2022. In summer 2023, the U.S. Department of State will send him overseas to intern in a U.S. Embassy or Consulate to get hands-on experience in U.S. foreign policy and the work of the Foreign Service. Upon successful completion of the program, Cortes-Martinez will become a U.S. diplomat in summer 2024.

Currently in the process of applying to graduate schools and degree programs related to international development and international relations, Cortes-Martinez plans to start his master’s degree in the fall of 2022.

Previously a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Malaysia, he is excited about what the future holds.

“As a Mexican-American immigrant from Medford, Ore., and first-generation college student, I never thought I would be presented with this opportunity,” Cortes-Martinez said. “I hope that others, especially those from underrepresented communities, look into applying to similar programs, as representation is important to have our voices heard. I also hope, as a Foreign Service Officer, I will be able to create positive change in the world.”