International Affairs Profiles

Meet the International Affairs graduate alumni. Read below to learn about their education experience and service as a Trinity Fellow at Marquette University.

Benjamin Rangel

Trinity Fellows Class of 2019
Graduate Program: MA in International Affairs
Undergraduate Degree, Undergraduate Institution: Political Science, UW-Madison
Full-time Service Organization(s), Years Served, Location(s): AmeriCorps – College Possible, 2015-2017, Milwaukee, WI (Pulaski High School)

More about Benjamin

Describe Your Service Experience:
Neither of parents graduated from high school and I had a hard time navigating the college admission process. In addition, my family was low income and did not have a lot of resources to help in college. As such, College Possible felt like a way to support the students that I identified with. I fell in love with service, my school, and the Milwaukee community. I served a second year to see my service out and my students to graduation. In addition, I serve to dismantle systems of oppression and injustice through proximity and love.

I served roughly 40 high school seniors and juniors at Pulaski High School. In that role I provided taught the ACT, advised and supported students on their college applications, helped students apply for financial aid and for scholarships, and mentored them through their time in the program.

I am dedicated to Milwaukee and wanted to continue to serve the Milwaukee community and the Trinity Fellows Program offered that opportunity and the ability to learn in the field of my interest. In addition, the program centered economic and social justice. It was the only program that I was admitted into that centered those things and I believe a commitment to racial and economic justice is essential to transforming the world into what I believe it can become. In addition, the cohort-based model made finding and creating a community more accessible.
Why was this program the right fit for you? Its mission to bring service-centered people to Milwaukee fit perfectly with what I wanted from my graduate school experience – the ability to learn but to still serve the Milwaukee community. It also embodied cura personalis – the care for the whole person, which I felt and appreciated.

Describe Your Trinity Fellowship Experience:
Through my work placement, I developed my organization and planning skills. I have learned to think critically about logistics surrounding programmatic development and around event planning. In addition, I have grown in my ability to discuss and understand social justice challenges and issues around race in society. Through Trinity specifically, I have grown in my ability to understand and serve the community and I have developed a better understanding of what it means to find and nurture a community.

What was it like to study and work in Milwaukee? Amazing. Milwaukee is accessible and affordable but has a ton of great “big city” perks. For instance, the beach is beautiful and such a great place in the summer, the city is full of parks, beer gardens, and bike trails, and there is always a concert or show or something happening. Studying in the city is great too since there are a lot of coffee shops and libraries all over.

I am proud of all the work I have completed at City Year and the impression I have left on such a great organization. In addition, I am proud of the work with my local podcast – Bridge the City. It means so much and I am so grateful for the Trinity Fellows experience because it will always mean I have resources and people to count on and to help me improve the community.

Plans After Graduation:
 I am continuing my work with Bridge the City and starting a job as a High School Teacher at Cristo Rey Jesuit. I am going to be a teacher and feel the Trinity Fellows experience has prepared me well to be an expert in the content I’ll be teaching (government), what I learned at the placement at City Year will be extraordinarily helpful for my time in the classroom, and my understanding of how important community is (learned through the Trinity community I have built) will be helpful. 

Bethany Woodson

Trinity Fellows Class of 2019
Graduate Program: International Affairs
Undergraduate Degree, Undergraduate Institution: University of Missouri, Kansas City, BA Economics
Full-time Service Organization(s), Years Served, Location(s): Peace Corps, Burkina Faso, 2015-2016

More about Bethany

Describe Your Service Experience:
I discovered Peace Corps at a young age and fell in love with the mission. I loved the idea of learning about the world through service and so when I graduated it was the logical next step. I think I felt the same way when I discovered the Trinity program. I was really worried about returning to the US after my service and not feeling comfortable in some of my old environments, Trinity was a chance to find a community that had similar values and ease the transition while also progressing professionally.

Describe Your Trinity Fellowship Experience:
Trinity has no doubt helped me grow personally and professionally. I am a lot more comfortable explaining my mission and vision for life and the ways I want to meet my personal but also service goals. Returning to this region via Milwaukee was such a blessing. Prior to Trinity I didn’t really feel connected to Milwaukee because I grew up so far into the suburbs but this experience really gave me a chance to get to know Milwaukee and feel comfortable calling it my hometown. It also gave me an opportunity to really fall in love with Milwaukee despite its many faults.

The work I accomplished during my fellowship, namely the community-based research project I conducted through my placement, is something I am really proud of. It taught me so much academically and professionally but I also think it really has the opportunity to have an impact regardless of whether or not I’m here in Milwaukee. I feel really honored to be part of the Trinity community and have friends and connections I know I can always rely on and reach out to. I also love knowing how much potential this community has to really create systems change, that’s a great thing to be a part of.

Plans After Graduation:
My plan is to continue in the field of research and evaluation, most likely in the international development sector. Specifically I’d like to find ways to bring together my love of economics with my passion for gender development and migration issues and reduce fragmentation and inefficiency in the field.

I will no doubt apply what I’ve learned in my research both academically and in my placement but I will also always be thinking about my work from a social justice frame thanks to this program. I think that was something I aspired to before but now I really have the tools to feel comfortable doing so.

Allison Renton

Trinity Fellows Class of 2015
Graduate Program: International Affairs
Undergraduate Degree, Institution: International Business, Gonzaga University
Trinity Nonprofit Agency: Discovery World, Development Associate

More about Allison

Full-time Service Experience, Years Served, Location:
I served with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps for one year (2010-2011) in Atlanta, GA. My placement was the International Community School, where I worked in a first grade classroom as a teacher’s assistant. This elementary school worked with local neighborhoods and various refugee and immigrant communities to create an integrated and peaceful community through education and interaction.

Trinity Fellowship Experience:
I chose to partake in the International Affairs Master’s program at Marquette during the Trinity Fellowship. My academic experience was challenging and rigorous, but I learned more than I ever thought I could know, and the professors were helpful and engaged. Though the Trinity Fellowship, I was placed at Discovery World, a science and technology museum on Lake Michigan. I worked in the Development Department as a Development Associate. My tasks included gift processing, donor stewardship, grant writing and campaign communications.

The Trinity Fellows Program helped me to process and synthesize the experiences that I had professionally and academically. The various reflections and workshops brought fresh perspective and energy to a challenging program. Ultimately, it was the people involved with this program that made it extraordinary, and I was lucky enough to gain some incredible friendships and memories over the course of the program.

Current Position:
Prospect Research at University of Wyoming Foundation

Lee Valentyn

Trinity Fellow Class of 2015
Graduate Program: International Affairs
Undergraduate Degree, Institution: Psychology and Spanish, Carroll College
Trinity Nonprofit Agency: Journey House, Assistant Director - Community Relations, and Volunteer Coordinator, Community Events Assistant

More about Lee

Full-time Service Experience, Years Served, Location:
What I remember most about my time in Nicaragua with the Capuchin Franciscan Volunteer Corps is the hospitality of the people. Always willing to share (food, time, laughs), no matter how limited their resources might have been. I learned to build relationships intentionally and to navigate the ever-changing waters of compromise. Hand-washing my laundry gave me time to reflect on my relationships, duties as a teacher’s aide and tutor, and my next steps in life. I grew in many ways from my 18 months there.

Trinity Fellowship Experience:
Above all, I will remember the experiences I shared with the fellows in my cohort. Attending conferences together, sharing a post-class beer at Murphy’s, and volunteering together, we were able to grow and understand one another in important ways. Most importantly, I think we really took an interest in each other’s lives and any successes or challenges we came across.

My studies in International Affairs challenged my worldview and helped me to gain a better understanding not only of international relationships, but also local relationships. My courses taught me to think critically about information presented to me and how it may or may not be pertinent, depending on the context.

Finally, my agency placement at Journey House allowed me to explore new professional opportunities that made me a better person and co-worker. I felt privileged to work at an organization that has such a longstanding relationship with the Trinity Fellows Program. As in the case in many nonprofits, the people who work at Journey House are sincere in their desire to do social good. I enjoyed working with them and will look forward to continuing to spend time with them in other professional and social setting when I can.

Current Position:
Project Director at Clarke Square Neighborhood Initiative Milwaukee

John Madigan

Trinity Fellow Class of 2010
Graduate Program: MA International Affairs
Undergraduate Degree, Institution: Writing-Intensive English, Marquette University
Trinity Nonprofit Agency: Journey House, Assistant Development Director
Full-time Service Experience, Years Served, Location: Peace Corps Volunteer and English Teacher, 2003-2005, Mongolia

More about John

Service Experience:
As a Peace Corps Volunteer and English Teacher in Mongolia, I designed courses and led classroom instruction for over 125 secondary school, college, and adult students in English as a Foreign Language and Western Literature. Over 45 of these students went on to become English teachers in Mongolia. Outside of teaching, I facilitated the development of an English Teaching Resource Center for college instructors through a grant from U.S. Embassy Ulaanbaatar. I emphasized and built in local ownership through all phases of this project. In terms of capacity building, I organized 5 communicative language instruction seminars that increased teaching capacity of 12 Mongolian English teachers. I also collaborated with other Peace Corps Volunteers and European ex-patriots in Mongolia in the design of 2 teaching conferences that enhanced the ability of over 40 Mongolian English teachers to plan integrated language learning lessons.

Trinity Fellowship Experience:
My experience in the Trinity Fellows Program consisted of full-time study towards an MA in International Affairs at Marquette and a combination of part-time and full-time work as assistant director of development at Journey House, a community-based service agency. The degree program in international affairs was both rigorous and rewarding. My studies and research focused broadly on International Relations and Comparative Politics with special concentration on the political economy of the developing world and China/Mongolia.

As assistant director of development at Journey House, my primary role was to grow and sustain the agency through fund and program development. I helped achieve an annual $1.8 million agency budget by developing direct mail appeals, email marketing “e-blasts”, the annual report, press releases, special events coordination, and related marketing materials to manage relationships with donors. Additionally, I contributed to over 15 winning grant proposals to government and private foundations and helped manage a database of over 6,000 donors through data entry of gifts and stewardship activities. In coordinating internal communications, meetings, and follow-up action items, I was also an integral part of a campaign for public-private partnership that raised over 50% of a $6 million goal in a year of severe recession.

My experience in the Trinity Fellows Program has been of great value for my personal and professional development. I have grown to see that realizing my potential is more a matter of my own actions than the structure in which I find myself. It is true that being around great minds, people, and organizations can be contagious for developing similar qualities in yourself. But without that sense of fearless initiation, you can just as easily miss great opportunities as take advantage of them. I value rigorous preparation and my own ability to shape positive outcomes – or at least my ability to empower other people to do so – much more so than before. I am optimistic about my prospects of leveraging the impact the Trinity program has had on me towards a career in addressing issues of international social justice.

Plans after graduation:
In the near term, I look forward to contributing my qualifications to a program development or program officer position with a leading human and economic development organization working in the developing countries of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. The most likely place for me to do this is Washington, DC. In the long term, I hope to take a leadership role in leveraging the resources of the Minneapolis/St. Paul community to address related international issues.

Current Position:
Senior Manager, Sourcing and Procurement at Accenture, Greater Chicago Area.

Courtney Roy

Trinity Fellow Class of 2005
Graduate Program: MA, International Affairs
Undergraduate Degree, Institution: International Politics, Women's Studies, Pennsylvania State University
Trinity Nonprofit Agency: The Healing Center
Full-time Service Experience, Years Served, Location: Peace Corps, 2000-2002. The Gambia

More about Courtney

Service Experience:
It had always been a dream of mine to join the Peace Corps. I served as a Rural Health Extensionist and HIV Educator in The Gambia, West Africa. I lived in and worked closely with a rural village community to determine priorities for health education. At the village Primary School , I taught Health Class to Grades 4, 5, and 6, established and supervised a Girls Soccer Team, worked with the teachers to construct teaching aids and develop a resource library. Through my service, I developed a deeper understanding of the complexities involved with HIV awareness.

I extended my service to create and launch a Gender Sensitive HIV/AIDS Initiative that trained volunteers and staff to implement gender sensitive HIV/AIDS educational strategies.

Trinity Fellowship Experience:
My experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer had a profound effect upon me. Although graduate education was a long-time goal of mine, I found it very challenging to throw myself back into the academic environment after such a deep, hands on experience. As a Trinity Fellow, I was able to bridge the gap between the academic world and service. I greatly valued my connection to the community and my agency, while obtaining my Masters of International Affairs.

Through the Trinity Fellowship, I had the unique opportunity to be part of a small team of people birthing a new non-profit to provide advocacy and support to survivors of sexual abuse and their loved ones. I designed and implemented the Volunteer Program at The Healing Center and grew it to include more than thirty volunteers. In addition, I was active in the creation of organizational policy, and the implementation and evaluation of programming.

The Trinity Fellowship has exposed me to the world of nonprofits in a deep and intimate manner. Not only have I gained from my own experience at The Healing Center, but have also benefited from a variety of coursework and the insight and experience of other fellows working in Milwaukee nonprofits. My experience as a Trinity Fellow has both enriched my academic studies and professional development.

Plans After Graduation:
I look forward to integrating my passion of international development and gender issues with the experience I have gained as a Trinity Fellow. I plan to seek a staff position in a nongovernmental international development organization.

Current Position:
Director of Division of Policy, Planning and Evaluation at Administration for Native American.