The first Robertson Fellows have been awarded this fall to four Texas A&M University Bush School of Government and Public Service students. Thomas Buchanan, Kerri Eisenbach, Danielle Menard, and Michael Vogel began their studies in September. The program was instituted at the Bush School in 2010 with a grant of $386,400 over four years from the Robertson Foundation for Government (RFFG).
Established by the family of the late philanthropists Charles and Marie Robertson, and named in their honor, the Foundation’s mission is to strengthen the United States by supporting educational and training programs for men and women who will enter federal government service.
“It is my family’s hope and expectation,” said Robertson Foundation for Government (RFFG) Chairman William Robertson, “that the Robertson Fellows will choose federal government service as a long-term career. By being selected for this fellowship, they have already shown their interest in this career choice, and they will be encouraged and steered in that direction during the course of the fellowship by RFFG and the Bush School. With the many challenges the United States faces, the federal government needs the professional talent of America’s ‘best and brightest’ now more than ever before.”
The first class of Robertson Fellows at the Bush School includes:
Thomas C. Buchanan of Corpus Christi, Texas graduated magna cum laude in 2003 from Texas A&M University-Kingsville where he earned his BS in criminology with a minor in theater arts. He served two years in the Peace Corps in Bourgas, Bulgaria, where he helped develop and implement an employment program for the region’s Turkish and Roma minorities. Upon returning to the United States, he worked as an editor specializing in translations from Slavic languages to English before moving to Argentina to work as chief editor for a small company he co-founded.
Kerri Eisenbach of Tyler, Texas earned her BA in philosophy from Texas A&M University, graduating magna cum laude in December 2010. A member of Phi Beta Kappa, Kerri won the Manuel Davenport Prize for her service to the department and also served as an officer for the Undergraduate Philosophy Club. Kerri was a member of the Wiley Lecture Series and W, a women’s service organization, served as a conversation partner to international students, and completed both a study abroad in Costa Rica and service work in Mexico.
Danielle M. Menard of Los Angeles, California is a 2011 Bryn Mawr College graduate with a BA in political science, a BA in French, and a minor in Russian. A Kline Fellowship supported her advanced Russian studies in St. Petersburg during the summer of 2011, which followed spring studies at the Sorbonne in Paris. She has held internships with several organizations, including the Department of Defense, Office of the General Counsel; the US Trade and Development Agency, Sub-Saharan Africa Region; the US Embassy Paris, Political Section; and the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program of the University of Pennsylvania.
Michael Vogel of Westerly, Rhode Island graduated summa cum laude from the University of Rhode Island in December 2010 with a B.A. in political science. Vogel is a former Marine who assisted in the 2007 troop surge in Iraq, serving as a route clearance gunner in the Al-Anbar Province. While an undergraduate, he was a recipient of the Horatio Alger Military Scholarship, and in 2011 he was named the David Warren International Relations scholar-of-the-year. Michael circumnavigated the globe in 2010, where he was exposed to a variety of cultures in the countries of Japan, China, Viet Nam, India, South Africa, and Brazil.
RFFG places special emphasis on studies related to international relations and foreign affairs and seeks to help the federal government meet its personnel needs by working with colleges and universities throughout the country as well as with federal departments and agencies that require international expertise.
In establishing the Robertson Fellows Program, the Bush School agreed to recruit high-caliber students to study in the School’s master’s degree programs in International Affairs and Public Service and Administration. Eligible students must be US citizens, academically qualified, proficient in a foreign language upon graduation, and must commit to working for the federal government for at least three years during the first five years after graduating.
“Each of this year’s Robertson Fellows more than meets the Foundation’s criteria,” said Sam Kirkpatrick, Executive Associate Dean. “Their academic achievements are impressive, and are enhanced by the broad range of experiences they have had during and after their undergraduate education,” he added. RFFG funds are in addition to funds normally provided to Bush School students. The goal is to provide a mix of resources that will cover nearly all expenses associated with completing a master’s degree over two years. Fellowship recipients also receive additional enhancements such as subsidized health insurance and internship expenses; assistance in securing Federal employment; networking with Robertson alumni on internship and career opportunities; and meetings with the RFFG staff and distinguished Advisory Board.