Stanislas Phanord moved from Haiti to Boston’s Mattapan neighborhood when he was three, facing various personal challenges throughout his childhood and into high school.
Phanord, who is set to graduate on May 2 from Northeastern with a bachelor’s degree in political science, was recently named a Rangel Graduate Fellow and the recipient of a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in France. He is one of only 20 students to win the Rangel, which aims to prepare recipients for careers in the Foreign Service, and one of six people in the nation to be awarded the teaching assistantship.
It was in Northeastern’s Foundation Year program in 2009, however, where Phanord said he discovered the confidence and direction to put him on the path for success.
“Foundation Year provided me the opportunity to improve the skills that I wasn’t able to obtain in high school and prepared me for any institution that I was going to attend afterwards,” said Phanord.
The Foundation Year program, in Northeastern’s College of Professional Studies, offers local high school graduates and students holding GED completion certificates the opportunity to earn one full year of college credit in 11 months. Students take rigorous freshman level courses, meet weekly with writing and math tutors, and work closely with advisers, career counselors, and faculty members. After completing the program, they are eligible to pursue several different college opportunities at Northeastern or another institution. Phanord selected, and was accepted into, Northeastern’s College of Social Sciences and Humanities in 2010.
“In Foundation Year, I got the writing, quantitative, and analytical skills necessary to, not only survive, but excel at Northeastern University, he said. “Most of all, with the guidance of my Foundation Year professors, I learned how to be resourceful and how to take control of my own destiny.”
On the right track
Since then, Phanord has sought a variety of experiential learning opportunities that have put him on track for a career in diplomacy. In 2012, he spent eight months in Geneva, Switzerland. The first two were spent on a Dialogue of Civilizations Program at the United National Institute for Disarmament Research, where he conducted research into the conditions necessary for the UN and the Taliban in Afghanistan to begin a disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration process. Following the Dialogue program, he conducted a six-month co-op as a research intern at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy.
Human Rights in Africa
Yet Phanord’s global experiences at Northeastern were just beginning. In 2013, he studied at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco, refining his French language skills and studying North Africa’s political system. Later that year, he spent two months in France taking intensive French language and culture courses.
Learning about rape laws in Morocco inspired Phanord to pursue opportunities to conduct research in international human rights and security. It was ultimately his work on co-op as a human rights volunteer at the local office of the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights in Saint-Louis, Senegal, operated under Projects Abroad-Senegal, that motivated him to become a staunch advocate for human rights.
In Senegal, he conducted research on the rights of the Talibe, Senegalese children who are forced to beg on the streets for food and money, which, Phanord explained, is then passed on to their teacher. Based on interviews Phanord conducted with the boys, Quran professors, and NGOs in the area such as Amnesty International, he compiled a list of recommendations to help the children; that list will be sent in this year’s annual report to the Sengalese government.
“Northeastern’s global opportunities gave me an edge in seeking out the career I always wanted: to be a diplomat,” Phanord explained. “Had I not been able to get work experience abroad, I would not have been able to prove to the [Rangel Fellowship selection] panel that I was ready or motivated to be sworn into the Foreign Service.”
On to Diplomacy
In October, Phanord will begin his English teaching assistantship in France. As part of the Fulbright, he will spend seven months helping high school teachers improve the vocabulary and conversation skills of underprivileged students. He will also conduct human rights research on the relationship between France and other Francophone countries.
Through the Rangel Fellowship program, Phanord will receive support for graduate school, professional development, and entry into the U.S. Foreign Service. Before traveling to France, he will complete a three-month congressional internship through the program, working for members of Congress involved in international affairs. When he returns from France next spring, he will participate in a 10-week internship at a U.S. Embassy overseas, after which he will begin a master’s program in public administration.
Upon completion of the Rangel Program, which will take about three years, Phanord will be sworn into the Foreign Service as a diplomat. “With the Rangel Fellowship, that job is waiting for me,” he said. “Thanks to my experience in Foundation Year I was motivated to take full advantage of Northeastern’s co-op program, and I will fulfill my dream of serving as a U.S. diplomat.”
A version of this article originally appeared on Northeastern News.