Lola Oke is a Brock Scholar in the Honors College.

Lola Oke has a busy summer ahead of her, and she can’t wait to get started.

Oke, a University of Tennessee at Chattanooga sophomore political science major and Brock Scholar in the Honors College, recently learned that she was accepted into the Fulbright Canada Mitacs Globalink program in which U.S. undergraduate students work with a Canadian education institution. The advanced research program runs 10-to-12 weeks between May and August.

But why limit yourself to just one award if you can work a second competitive educational experience into your summer schedule?

Following a nationwide competition that drew over 1,200 applicants, Oke is one of 20 collegiate undergraduates selected as a 2021 Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Summer Enrichment Program Scholar.

During the fully funded six-week program, which runs from June 14-July 23, Oke will attend virtual classes and events at diverse locations around Washington, D.C., including the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development and Congress.

“This program will help me get exposed to a potential career in foreign service. I’m interested in research and policy analysis, so I’m most excited about getting to be exposed to different think tanks in D.C.,” Oke said.

“Becoming a Rangel Scholar can help direct me toward future fellowships and perhaps open doors that would not have been open for me before, and this gives me a lot of options,” she said. “For instance, what fellowships do I want to apply for based on my experience in Rangel? Am I looking for more of a Fulbright fellowship where I study and I teach? Or something abroad for a year, like a post-grad Fulbright? Perhaps I’m more interested in policy analysis based on my Rangel experience.

“I have so many different interests, and I’m hoping that this program can be a stepping stone for me.”

According to its website, the Rangel International Affairs Summer Enrichment Program, funded by the U.S. Department of State and administered by Howard University, provides undergraduate students with a deeper appreciation of current issues and trends in international affairs, a greater understanding of career opportunities in international affairs and the enhanced knowledge and skills to pursue such careers.

“Careers in international affairs provide young people with uniquely rewarding experiences through which they can help find solutions to issues of global concern while interacting with individuals from countries around the world,” said Bunmi Akinnusotu, the Rangel Program’s deputy director.

Strange as it might sound, Oke benefits from COVID-19 protocols. Because the programs are being conducted in a virtual nature this summer, instead of in D.C. and Canada, she will participate in both simultaneously from her family’s home in the Atlanta suburbs.

For the Mitacs Globalink research fellowship. she will work with a team on a project titled “Racial Uprisings and the Responsiveness of Governments.”

“We’re supposed to be doing about 40 hours per week of research, so I’m probably going to have to put in some work during the weekend and at night,” Oke said. “I won’t be doing Rangel the entire summer, which is how I can think of the most plausible way to manage my schedule. But I think it will be OK.

The University of Victoria is in the Pacific time zone, giving the self-professed night owl a few extra hours of research time.

“They are three hours later there,” she said with a laugh. “Nice.”


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Chuck Wasserstrom is an executive staff writer in the UTC Office of Communications and Marketing.

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