This month, Forbes published its annual 30 Under 30 recognizing bright young entrepreneurs, breakout talent, and change agents in 20 different professional sectors. Seven of these leaders studied abroad on State Department exchange programs early in their careers. These experiences shaped their identities and in many cases motivated them to become leaders and thinkers in the United States and around the world.
Exchange programs support U.S. international leadership and motivate participants to pursue important fields, like health and entrepreneurship. For example, Emilia Javorsky, a Fulbright Student to the European Union in 2012, was recognized for her work as a Physician-Scientist at Massachusetts General Hospital where she worked to develop a method for freezing fat anywhere in the body, with potential to treat conditions like sleep apnea and type 2 diabetes. Emilia felt that her Fulbright Program, “…was transformative in helping me realize that after medical school I wanted to work on a macro level to transform the way we innovate in medicine.”
Evin Robinson participated in Syracuse University’s study abroad program in Hong Kong as a Gilman Scholar in the fall of 2011, where he focused on business and Mandarin. Three years later, he co-founded New York On Tech to create pathways for underrepresented students into degrees and careers in tech.
Following their experiences abroad exchange program alumni continue to develop new skills that build U.S. and international security, prosperity, and cooperation. Noam Angrist, a Fulbright Student to Botswana 2013, co-founded Young 1ove in Botswana during his Fulbright to teach students about sex education and HIV/AIDS. Lexie Komisar, who studied public health in Mexico on a Fulbright in 2009, is a founding member of IBM's Digital Innovation Lab. And Alaa Murabit, who participated in the Middle Eastern-Western Dialogue Program in 2013, is now the only United Nations (UN) high level commissioner under the age 45.
Forbes recognized three more U.S. Fulbright Student alumni who are demonstrating leadership in their respective fields. Gloria Tavera studied in Mexico in 2009 and is now a founding member and current president of Universities Allied for Essential Medicines. Adina Appelbaum studied in Egypt in 2010 and created Crim-Imm Pro Bono Project to increase access to criminal immigration legal counsel in the United States, and Anna Therese Day, who studied in Spain in 2013, is a founding member of Frontline Freelance Register.
These State Department exchange program alumni are part of a network that is over one million strong worldwide. Each year, approximately 14,000 Americans join the network, traveling on programs that range from high school study abroad to Professional Fellows. They tell us they return home with new ideas and perspectives, and pursue careers in the business, NGO, or government sectors as a result of their exchanges. These exchange alumni are addressing challenges that range from broadening access to education to countering violent extremism. Likewise, international exchange participants pursue similar opportunities after they return home.
About the Author: Carlyn Messinger is an Alumni Records Specialist for Alumni Affairs within the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.