Senior and international studies and French double major Krystin Rodriguez will be combining her love of traveling with her desire to help other countries after graduating from UNT in December by taking the first steps to becoming a U.S. diplomat.

Rodriguez was selected as one of only 30 fellows for the 2018 Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Graduate Fellowship Program, which attracts and prepares outstanding young people for careers in the Foreign Service of the U.S. Department of State in which they can help formulate, represent and implement U.S. foreign policy. Through the program, Rodriguez will be sponsored in her graduate studies by the U.S. Department of State and will enter the U.S. Foreign Service in 2020 as a foreign service officer. After her initial orientation next summer in Washington, D.C., she will be assigned a mentor and complete an internship working on international issues for members of Congress before beginning graduate school in the fall.

For Rodriguez, this opportunity is way to put her UNT education and her desire to learn about and help other countries to good use.

“I want to work on human rights and help improve local communities while serving as a representative of the U.S.,” she said. “I also want to learn as many languages as possible.”

Growing up in Denton, Rodriguez was first attracted to UNT due to its academic reputation, the financial support it offered through the Emerald Eagle Scholars program and the diversity of its students.

“AT UNT, I have been able to interact with so many students from other countries and hear so many different perspectives,” she said. “There are great events that push you beyond your major and opportunities to interact with other majors as well.”

Having had many international friends in high school, Rodriguez knew majoring in international studies would be the perfect fit for her. Her decision was further solidified when she studied abroad in Cannes, France, for four months after receiving a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. The experience allowed her to visit seven countries and perfect her grammar and business French skills, but it also inspired a desire to work in global relations.

“Seeing increased security following the November 2015 attacks in Paris and March 2016 Belgium attacks while studying abroad made me question why these things keep happening and think about how we can work together to prevent them in the future,” said Rodriguez.

She also focused her international studies senior-year capstone projects on how the U.S. can work diplomatically with North Korea and Yemen to address issues within their countries.

In addition, Rodriguez participated in the Honors College, where she was able to complete independent research projects with an international focus. She will be the speaker at the Honors College graduation in December.

After graduation, Rodriguez plans to travel throughout the U.S. before starting her orientation next summer.

Though the thought of working abroad can be intimidating for some, Rodriguez has the complete support of her family in her decision to enter the Foreign Service.

“There are multiple generations of military service in my family, so they fully support my decision,” she said. Although, she confesses that her biggest fear is having to eat bugs, a far cry from the tacos and queso that she enjoys in Texas and will miss while working abroad.

Photo by Ross Ocampo

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