Joy Woods ‘21 is one of the 45 applicants chosen annually for the highly competitive, nationally-awarded, Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Graduate Fellowship program.
As part of the scholarship program, Woods will participate in two internships – one working on international issues for members of Congress in Washington, D.C. and one overseas internship at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Additionally, as a fellow, she will receive an award of up to $42,000 annually for tuition, room and board, books, and mandatory fees for completion of a two-year master’s degree program. Fellows also receive mentoring from a foreign service officer and participate in professional development opportunities.
Once the two-year program ends and the master’s degree program is complete, Woods will be prepared to serve in the United States Foreign Service.
For Woods, this is the opportunity that she has been waiting for.
Thanks to her older sister, also a UNCG alumni, Woods knew of UNCG’s reputation and resources for sending students abroad. And because studying abroad was a priority for her, enrolling at UNCG was an easy decision to make her dream come true.
As a political science and international business double major, the McNair Scholar took advantage of the multitude of global resources and experiences offered at UNCG, including the Lloyd International Honors College, the Global Leadership program, UNCG Interlink , and UNCG’s International Programs Center (IPC).
Thanks to the support of IPC and the Honors College, Wood was able to study abroad in Japan during the 2018-2019 school year after being awarded two prestigious scholarships: the Gilman Scholarship and the Freeman-Asia Scholarship, which funded an experience of a lifetime.
While abroad, Woods immersed herself in the culture of Nagoya, Japan, exploring temples and shrines, new foods, art and science museums, and even robot and cat cafes.
When she returned, she became a political intern for the State Department, working with foreign service officers that served as liaisons between Japanese embassies and consulates. Woods credits this internship for igniting her interest in joining the foreign service.
But that couldn’t have happened, she says, without the resources and support offered through IPC during both the application process for her scholarships and during her time abroad.
“They gave me everything I could’ve needed or asked for. I had so many questions about studying abroad, and I was so nervous for my scholarship interviews. But UNCG and IPC always made me feel like studying abroad was possible and accessible – they were going to help me get there, whether that be by personally reading my scholarship application essays or emailing me about funding opportunities.”
And that support didn’t stop once Wood graduated. In fact, IPC staff helped her apply to the Rangel Graduate Fellowship Program.
“I have what I call my ‘UNCG Go Team’ – staff and former professors that I can contact for anything I need, like recommendation letters, career advice, or an extra set of eyes on an application.”
With a passion for foreign service and her “UNCG Go Team” behind her, Woods is grateful and excited to be achieving her master’s degree in a field she’s passionate about as well as securing a fulfilling career.
“This opportunity means the world to me. With so much going on because of the pandemic, it is nice having the security of knowing you will be doing something you’ll love for the next seven years. This gives me validation that I am heading in the right direction, and I am excited to learn more.”
Story by Dana Broadus, University Communications
Photography courtesy of Joy Woods ’21