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The path to diplomacy

Stanislas Phanord, SSH’14, moved from Haiti to Boston’s Mattapan neigh­bor­hood when he was three, facing various personal challenges throughout his childhood and into high school. It was in Northeastern’s Foun­da­tion Year program in 2009, however, where Phanord said he dis­cov­ered the confidence and direction to put him on the path for success.

Phanord, who is set to graduate on May 2 with a bachelor’s degree in political science, has taken full advantage of his Northeastern experience—and his deter­mi­na­tion and hard work have clearly paid off. He was recently named a Rangel Graduate Fellow and the recipient of a Fulbright Eng­lish Teaching Assist­ant­ship in France. He is one of only 20 students to win the Rangel, which aims to prepare recip­i­ents for careers in the Foreign Service, and one of six people in the nation to be awarded the teaching assist­ant­ship. He was rec­og­nized for these achieve­ments at the university’s Academic Honors Con­vo­ca­tion on Wednesday.

“Foun­da­tion Year provided me the oppor­tu­nity to improve the skills that I wasn’t able to obtain in high school and prepared me for any insti­tu­tion that I was going to attend afterwards,” said Phanord, whose political science studies include a con­cen­tra­tion in inter­na­tional and com­par­a­tive politics.

The Foun­da­tion Year program, in Northeastern’s College of Pro­fes­sional Studies, offers local high school grad­u­ates and students holding GED com­ple­tion cer­tifi­cates the oppor­tu­nity to earn one full year of col­lege credit in 11 months. Students take rigorous freshman level courses, meet weekly with writing and math tutors, and work closely with advisers, career counselors, and faculty members. After completing the program, they are eligible to pursue several different college oppor­tu­ni­ties at Northeastern or another institution. Phanord selected, and was accepted into, Northeastern’s College of Social Sciences and Human­i­ties in 2010.

Since then, Phanord has sought a variety of expe­ri­en­tial learning oppor­tu­ni­ties that have put him on track for a career in diplomacy. In 2012, he spent eight months in Geneva, Switzer­land. The first two were spent on a Dialogue of Civilizations Program at the United National Institute for Dis­ar­ma­ment Research, where he conducted research into the conditions nec­es­sary for the UN and the Taliban in Afghanistan to begin a dis­ar­ma­ment, demo­bi­liza­tion, and reintegration process. Following the Dialogue program, he conducted a six-​​month co-​​op as a research intern at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy.

Yet Phanord’s global expe­ri­ences at Northeastern were just beginning. In 2013, he studied at Al Akhawayn Uni­ver­sity in Ifrane, Morocco, refining his French language skills and studying North Africa’s political system. Later that year, he spent two months in France taking intensive French language and culture courses.

Learning about rape laws in Morocco inspired Phanord to pursue oppor­tu­ni­ties to conduct research in inter­na­tional human rights and security. It was ultimately his work on co-​​op as a human rights vol­un­teer at the local office of the Defense and Pro­mo­tion of Human Rights in Saint-​​Louis, Senegal, operated under Projects Abroad-​​Senegal, that motivated him to become a staunch advocate for human rights.

In Senegal, he conducted research on the rights of the Talibe, Senegalese children who are forced to beg on the streets for food and money, which, Phanord explained, is then passed on to their teacher. Based on interviews Phanord conducted with the boys, Quran pro­fes­sors, and NGOs in the area such as Amnesty Inter­na­tional, he compiled a list of recom­men­da­tions to help the children; that list will be sent in this year’s annual report to the Senegalese gov­ern­ment.

“Northeastern’s global oppor­tu­ni­ties gave me an edge in seeking out the career I always wanted: to be a diplomat,” Phanord explained. “Had I not been able to get work experience abroad, I would not have been able to prove to the [Rangel Fel­low­ship selection] panel that I was ready or motivated to be sworn into the Foreign Service.”

In October, Phanord will begin his English teaching assistantship in France. As part of the Fulbright, he will spend seven months helping high school teachers improve the vocabulary and con­ver­sa­tion skills of under­priv­i­leged students. He will also conduct human rights research on the relationship between France and other Francophone countries.

Through the Rangel Fel­low­ship program, Phanord will receive sup­port for graduate school, pro­fes­sional devel­op­ment, and entry into the U.S. Foreign Service. Before traveling to France, he will complete a three-​​month con­gres­sional internship through the program, working for members of Congress involved in inter­na­tional affairs. When he returns from France next spring, he will par­tic­i­pate in a 10-​​week internship at a U.S. Embassy overseas, after which he will begin a master’s program in public administration.

Upon com­ple­tion of the Rangel Pro­gram, which will take about three years, Phanord will be sworn into the Foreign Service as a diplomat. “With the Rangel Fel­low­ship, that job is waiting for me,” he said. “I will be a diplomat.”

– By Jordana Torres

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