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Alumnus Landon Fortenberry Awarded Rangel Fellowship

December 16, 2020

JMC alumnus Landon Fortenberry was recently awarded a highly competitive 2021 Rangel Fellowship to study in a graduate program that aims to prepare outstanding young people for careers in the Foreign Service. As a Rangel Fellow, Landon will spend two years attending graduate school in a political science and foreign language program and will intern for a Member of Congress involved in international affairs as well as overseas at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Landon graduated in 2019 with a degree in international relations and Chinese. As a student, he served as an Intercultural Aide for two years on campus, interned with Michigan Representative Sheldon Neeley, and studied abroad in China to improve his language proficiency. After graduating, Landon moved to the Washington, D.C. area to pursue work related to international affairs. During his search, he worked in customer service and focused on networking with fellow alumni at D.C. Spartans events, leading him to a job with Michael Bloomberg’s presidential campaign. “This experience helped me understand people better and sharpened my common sense,” Landon said. When his contract with the campaign ended, Landon was without a job during the pandemic but did not give up hope. “This period was very challenging, and I depended on the support of my family and friends to maintain faith and keep applying for positions.”

Currently, Landon is working as a math and English tutor for AmeriCorps in Arlington, which he says is the most rewarding work he has done so far and allows him to make a positive impact on the lives of others. Landon serves as Vice President of Fairfax Toastmasters, a group devoted to enhancing members’ communication and interpersonal skills. He is also a member of the Rotaract Club of D.C., where he serves as International Service Chair organizing cross-cultural events and partnerships with clubs around the world.

Landon always knew that he wanted to serve the United States as a Foreign Service Officer. His interests in global affairs, foreign languages, and other cultures stem from his high school experience as a Rotary Youth Exchange Student. Landon says of his journey and award:

“I am thankful for my loving parents, supportive soulmate (Yixi Dong), whom I married in November, and encouraging friends. They helped me rebound from the innumerable rejections in life and encouraged me to keep pursuing my dream of becoming an FSO.  Many doors closed on me, I applied and applied for positions, but companies rarely responded- especially when COVID-19 emerged. I sometimes wonder, what if they would have responded? Would I have become complacent and not applied for the fellowship? One door did open, and it was the door that would lead me to fulfill my dream; I am tremendously thankful and honored to have an opportunity to serve the American people as an FSO.”