This year, Cody Arigo, Naomi Atughonu, JaKyah Beatty and Megan Whinna have been selected as Robertson Fellows, in partnership with the Robertson Foundation for Government. Each fellow receives full tuition, a cost-of-living stipend and summer internship assistance.
Arigo graduated from Salisbury University with a degree in history and developed his policy interests in the Peace Corp serving in Kyrgyzstan, where he learned about the educational, economic development, women's empowerment NGOs and multilateral organizations that work in the country. He will be focusing on international security and economic policy at SPP.
“I wasn’t aware of all the opportunities to really do good and make a difference in government [prior to the Peace Corps],” said Arigo. “But I always had a curious and adventurous spirit combined with a passionate ethos for serving others.”
After completing his master’s program, Arigo hopes to find a job in the federal government focusing on foreign affairs, ideally aligning with his interests in economic development and governance.
Atughonu, who comes to SPP with a degree in economics and music performance from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, says her interests are in international trade, economics, energy and security.
“I originally thought I was going to become a music professor, but during my study abroad, I learned just how much countries are interdependent and connected by economic factors,” she said. “I became very interested in economics and policy after that, and switched my career path.
Atughonu is excited about diving into the different areas of public policy she does not have as much experience in during her time at the school. She also added that the fellowship is a unique way to cultivate her skills in a national agency or department while still getting the opportunity to interact with those from different cultures and backgrounds.
Beatty graduated from Kent State University with a degree in fashion merchandising and marketing. A course that delved into the global business of fashion and how it can negatively affect global economies, women and society at large sparked her interest in sustainable development. She will be focusing on international development policy and environmental policy.
“After learning the true environmental and social costs of an industry that I loved, [its effects on global carbon emissions and industrial water pollution], I decided to be a part of revolutionizing the industry,” said Beatty.
Beatty has also served in the Peace Corps, finding her love of foreign policy during her service in Fiji. She is excited for the opportunity the fellowship gives her to explore different cultures and languages while paving a way for other students of color interested in international affairs.
Whinna served as a Peace Corps education volunteer in The Gambia after completing her bachelor’s degree in special and elementary education from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. During that time, she found her passion for project development and design, as well as a determination to understand systems that make international development more or less effective.
“I am fascinated by how practitioners use monitoring and evaluation to determine the efficacy of various development projects, and how that feeds back into a cycle of institutional learning,” said Whinna.
At SPP, she will be focusing on international development, hoping to eventually work in an agency that focuses on community development projects through capacity building.
Qualifying students selected as Robertson Fellows have to be enrolled in the two-year Master of Public Policy degree program and have a commitment to a career in the federal government in foreign policy, national security and/or international affairs. Robertson Fellows also participate in a Robertson internship and are required to work for the federal government for three of their initial seven years following graduation and to demonstrate a proficiency in a foreign language at the time of graduation.
The Robertson Foundation for Government is a nonprofit family foundation that works to identify, educate and motivate U.S. graduate students to pursue federal government careers in foreign policy, national security and international affairs. The foundation was established by the family of the late philanthropists Charles and Marie Robertson, and named in their honor.