MALS Grad Is Named a NYS Excelsior Service Fellow

Ramona KahnBy Bonnie Eissner

A newly minted Excelsior Fellow, Ramona Natasha Khan (M.A.L.S. ’16, International Studies) is about to experience something she has long been curious about — working in government and public policy.

The New York State Excelsior Service Fellowship Program, started by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo in 2013, is designed to recruit recent law and graduate school graduates into government service. Khan will start a two-year fellowship in September.

“I really feel like I could make a difference in public policy,” Khan says. She is eager to work “on important initiatives that will benefit not just New Yorkers but citizens across the United States.”

An interest in international studies drew her to the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies Program at the GC. “I figured that this program would give me a broader scope of the whole international arena,” she says.

Prior to coming to the GC and while she was a student, she worked as an officer at the Institute of International Education, which administers the Fulbright program on behalf of the U.S. State Department. She says her role gave her some insight into trends in higher education and international education.

For her master’s thesis, she delved into the implications of the warming relations between the United States and Cuba. Working with Professor Stanley Renshon (GC/Lehman, Political Science), she learned to examine a complex issue from different perspectives.

“I’m really grateful that he made me open up my views and my mind,” she says, admitting that she initially had a strong bias.

A first-generation American — her parents immigrated from Guyana — she is the first person in her immediate family to earn a master’s degree, an experience she describes as “one of the most rewarding things” she has done to date.

“It’s going to make me more competitive in my professional life,” she says. “If I just had remained working,” she says, the opportunity to be an Excelsior Fellow “would not have been available for someone like me.”

Khan is the third Excelsior Fellow from the GC. Julie Garney (Ph.D. ’16, English) and Ph.D. student Flannery Amdahl (Political Science) are currently serving as fellows.

Submitted on: JUN 20, 2017

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