Cassie Gianni was born and raised in the Bayou City. When it came time to select a college, she elected to go with hometown school, the University of Houston. Soon, the senior economics major and Honors College student will explore new global and academic frontiers as a Rangel Graduate Fellow.
Named for U.S. Congressman Charles B. Rangel, the fellowship recognizes an exclusive group of students from around the nation who are destined for careers in foreign policy and international affairs. Gianni is the first University of Houston student to earn the Rangel Graduate Fellowship.
Rangel Fellowships support graduate students and provide professional development opportunities and an introduction to the U.S. Foreign Service. Each year, only 30 students from across the nation are selected as fellows. Fellows who successfully complete the program and Foreign Service entry requirements will receive appointments as Foreign Service Officers.
For Gianni, the Rangel Fellowship complements her career goal of becoming a diplomat. This professional ambition has grown throughout her time at UH, particularly following a presentation with the University’s diplomat-in-residence. She particularly has aspirations of serving as an Economic Foreign Service Officer to focus her energies on issues such as trade, investment, sustainability and development.
“This fellowship is truly a dream come true for me,” Gianni said. “The last five years, I have dedicated myself to developing the knowledge and skills necessary to serve effectively as a diplomat. As a Rangel Fellow, I feel so honored, excited and humbled to be on the path to serving our country and the world as a U.S. diplomat.”
As an undergrad and Tier One Scholar, Gianni has prepared herself for global opportunities by learning Spanish and Mandarin Chinese. She’s also contributed time and energy to international volunteer efforts. In Colombia, Gianni taught English to university and high school students. She also worked as a program coordinator for a leadership program for female high school students. In Peru, she and other UH students built partnerships with nongovernmental organizations, governments, businesses and microfinance institutions to sell and distribute solar powered lanterns to energy-impoverished Peruvians in the Amazon region. Gianni also studied abroad in China.
Gianni cites her experience with UH’s Honors College in her academic and professional development. She particularly is grateful for the mentorship of its faculty. She also has benefitted from her participation in the organization AIESEC, which provides college students with leadership opportunities, international internships and a global learning environment.
Gianni will graduate in May and begin her graduate studies at the University of Texas at Austin’s L.B.J. School of Public Affairs this fall.
“Cassie’s UH Honors liberal arts education will serve her well in graduate school and when she becomes an economic officer in the Foreign Service Office, a career that will allow her to make a positive impact around the world,” said William Monroe, dean of the Honors College.
The Rangel Graduate Fellowship is offered through the Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Program, a partnership between Howard University and the U.S. Department of State, with support from the U.S. Congress. The program’s goals include promoting diversity and excellence in U.S. Foreign Service.
The Honors College at UH is a hub of excellence that serves the needs of gifted undergraduates in more than 100 fields of study and reflects the rich diversity of the University of Houston in its courses, faculty and students. For over 50 years, the Honors College has offered students the best of both worlds: the advantages of a small college together with the comprehensive resources and rich diversity of a large university. For more information about the Honors College, visit http://TheHonorsCollege.com.