FAMU Alum, Clarece Polke, Awarded 2016 Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellowship


Clarece Polke, a Florida A&M University alum, was recently awarded a 2016 Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellowship. Established by Congressman Charles B. Rangel and managed by Howard University, the Rangel Fellowship supports talented individuals who want to pursue careers as Foreign Service officers with the U.S. Department of State. 

The fellowship will help sponsor Polke’s graduate studies over a two-year period and give her the opportunity to represent the U.S overseas. She was one of only 30 fellows selected from a pool of more than 400 applicants nationwide.

Polke, who turns 25 Wednesday, said she was entering New York City on a Megabus in late March when she got the email announcing her acceptance.

“I couldn’t believe it,” she said Monday from Washington. “I woke the whole bus up.”

Polke said she first heard about the fellowship as an undergraduate from classmate Calvin Hayes, who had received it, and later from Maurice Jackson, a graduate of FAMU’s School of Business and Industry, who received it last year.

“It was always in the back of my head,” she said. “It was Calvin who encouraged me.”

Polke, a native of Archer, Fla., studied print journalism at FAMU’s School of Journalism & Graphic Communication. While in college, she spent five months studying abroad at Shantou University in southern China where she strengthened her Mandarin language skills, focused on international and multimedia journalism and learned about Chinese culture.

As an undergraduate, Polke was an editor in chief at the Famuan student newspaper and a Tallahassee Democrat intern. She also held multimedia reporting and production internships with several national media companies, including E.W. Scripps and MSNBC. Some of her reporting highlights include covering the 2010 FIFA World Cup live in Johannesburg, South Africa, as part of a collaborative student journalism project and attending President Obama’s second inauguration during a multimedia short course sponsored by “PBS Newshour.”

Following her graduation in 2013, Polke taught journalism through a program sponsored by the Poynter Institute in a Florida elementary school, where she saw firsthand some of the challenges facing public education. She then spent two years at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as an education and night police reporter, where her coverage focused on urban education and racial and economic equity in predominantly low-income school districts. Most recently, she worked as a government regulations reporter for Thomson Reuters before joining the 2016 Rangel Fellowship cohort.

Polke plans to fulfill her graduate program requirement at American University, where she will study intercultural and international communications with a concentration in transnational education. Also as part of the program, she will complete two internships. The first will be with U.S. Rep. and FAMU alumnus Alcee Hastings, D-Florida. The second internship will be at a U.S. Embassy abroad, where she will get hands-on experience with U.S. foreign policy and the work of the Foreign Service. Upon graduation, Polke will become a U.S. diplomat, embarking on one of the most challenging and rewarding careers of service to her country.

Click here to read more

Source: Tallahassee Democrat