Stony Brook University alum Uzochi Jean-Philippe II ‘18 was awarded a 2023 Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellowship following a nationwide selection process. The fellowship, funded by the U.S. Department of State and managed by the Ralph J. Bunche International Affairs Center at Howard University, supports individuals looking to build a career in the U.S. Foreign Service.
Uzochi will receive funding to pursue his master’s degree in international affairs including two internships, one in Washington D.C. and another at an embassy overseas. Uzochi is granted guaranteed placement in the Foreign Service and plans to focus his career on the regions of Africa, Asia and the Caribbean.
“The Rangel Program is thrilled to welcome Uzochi Jean-Philippe II into our program,” said Rangel Program Director Patricia Scroggs. “His outstanding background, including strong academic credentials from Stony Brook University, made him a highly competitive candidate. I have no doubt that Uzochi will excel in his graduate program and will contribute to promoting peace, prosperity, and human dignity around the world as a Foreign Service Officer.”
Uzochi previously received the Gilman Scholarship to study abroad in China in 2018, which sparked his interest in joining the Foreign Service. Uzochi then pursued and received a Fulbright award to be an English teaching assistant in Taiwan, where he has been serving for the past three years. The Fulbright Taiwan experience reinforced his passion to pursue a career in the U.S. Foreign Service and his commitment to making a difference and serving others.
“Uzochi has planned fellowship programs into his overall trajectory in a way that allowed him to explore and refine his professional interests and see the world; his story should be inspirational to students from many backgrounds,” said Ashley Staples, Stony Brook University’s director for external fellowships.
Uzochi identifies as a Haitian-American and shared how his social identities affected his experience. “The Fulbright Taiwan experience taught me the importance of being a cultural ambassador, representing America’s diversity to my Taiwanese counterparts,” he said. As an immersive experience complementing his undergraduate majors in African and Asian Studies, Uzochi commented that through the Fulbright he “obtained significant international perspectives outside my local community in the U.S.”
Shimelis Gulema, associate professor of African history and politics, identified Uzochi as a very promising young scholar: “He proved himself to be a dedicated and diligent student with a capacity for advanced education and a deep commitment to public service. His knowledge of international affairs is truly impressive and his quest for understanding other cultures and societies is really commendable. Winning the 2023 Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellowship is a confirmation of his accomplishments and even more promise for the future.”
Through his experiences abroad, Uzochi has refined his professional goals for graduate school and beyond. “I aim to continuously put efforts to change the narrative of ‘blackness in Asia’ by destroying negative stereotypes and finding new appreciation in Africa and the Caribbean, where a lot of my heritage, my name (Uzochi), language and family traditions lie,” he said. “For many years, both Asian and African nations have been the center of focus in the 21st century, especially in the eyes of American Foreign Policy, leader summits, trade, and more. I hope to work with any number of these nations to strengthen our political and historical relationships and discover similarities among our differences for a more fruitful future.”
Abena Asare, associate professor of modern African affairs, reflected on Uzochi’s journey from his Stony Brook beginnings to this award: “When I first met Uzochi, he was a dual major at Stony Brook University, focusing on Africana Studies and Asian and Asian-American Studies. His goal then, as he put it, was to connect Asian and African American cultures, histories, and heritages, as a bridge of mutual benefit. Since then, watching Uzochi pursue a career in international affairs has been an inspiration; he has pursued a life of deep and constant connection to cultures and communities beyond U.S borders. Uzochi is a true cosmopolitan, and unlike so many who are branded with that term, he has not come to this worldliness through privilege and ease of access. Uzochi has come to know the world through a passion for culture, a humble and generous spirit, and his faith in the idea that our common humanity is a resource always available to us.”
Joining the Rangel cohort will help Uzochi foster skills needed to be a Foreign Affairs Officer and connect him to congressional internships. The experience provided by the mentorship by a Foreign Service Officer will prepare him for his future endeavors.
“As a Rangel Fellow, I’m most excited about joining an elite community of like-minded individuals from all walks of life with shared goals, aspirations, and professional interests,” he said.
— Ingrid Abourjeili