Texas Tech University

Graduate Student Wins International Affairs Fellowship

Heidi Toth

March 26, 2015

This is the first year Texas Tech students have been eligible for the prestigious DACOR Bacon House Foundation Fellowship.

Melissa Langston

A Texas Tech University master's student is the first Red Raider to win a prestigious fellowship for foreign affairs.

Melissa Langston, who is working on a master's degree in French, found out a few days after a trip to Washington, D.C., that she was receiving the fellowship from the DACOR Bacon House Foundation, an organization of foreign affairs professionals. Every year the foundation gives 11 $10,000 tuition-only fellowships to U.S. graduate students who are interested in a career in international service.

"I was a little bit nervous," Langston said. "But they were really friendly and interested in what I want to do with my life."

The fellowship is available only to students at 11 schools each year. Brett Alison Gold, DACOR's director of programs, said those universities include five in the Washington, D.C., area, which receive a fellowship every year, and six that change each year. This was Texas Tech's first year to be selected. Texas Tech alumni Phil Jones and Ambassador Tibor Nagy, both of whom are former career Foreign Service officers, facilitated Texas Tech's selection into the program.

The university may be selected as a sponsor university again, Gold said, but it will be after a minimum of five years.

Langston, who is from Amarillo, was one of three graduate students selected as finalists. She, Madison Hood of Athens, Georgia, and Casey Scarpati of Los Angeles spent two days in Washington, D.C., in early March, sightseeing and interviewing with the education committee.

They were selected by a committee from the Texas Tech Graduate School. Professors nominated students, who had to submit an essay and a letter from their nominating professor, and a committee narrowed it down to three finalists. Hood is studying political science, and Scarpati is studying Southeast Asia studies.

Langston said the DACOR Bacon education committee appeared impressed with the project she presented – an initiative that would create workshops to teach African women trades and tools to help them be more economically independent.

"It would close the economic and scholastic gaps that are present in West Africa at the moment," she said. "There's a lot of work to be done."

Although Texas Tech students will not be eligible for this fellowship until the university is selected again, its initial selection shows how broad the university's reach is throughout the nation and the world, officials say.

"Texas Tech is honored to be selected for a prestigious DACOR Bacon House fellowship, which is one more indication of the university's growing global reputation," said Mark Sheridan, vice provost for graduate and postdoctoral affairs and dean of the Graduate School. "We were extremely pleased to nominate three excellent candidates, and I knew the selection would be a difficult one. Melissa is an outstanding ambassador for Texas Tech and will benefit greatly from the award as she develops her vision of a career in public service."

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