Past MSA President Earns Prestigious Rangel Fellowship

By Josh Murray | Published on April 2, 2013

Portrait of Xavier BillingsleyMizzou senior Xavier Billingsley has had a busy undergraduate experience at Mizzou. He has directed an Alternative Spring Break trip, served as a Summer Welcome leader and interned at the United States Embassy in Jamaica. In addition, he was the 2012 Homecoming King and, probably most notably, he served as the president of the Missouri Student Association in 2012.

Now, he is preparing for life after graduation.

Billingsley has been awarded a Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellowship following a highly-competitive nationwide contest. The Rangel Fellowship, funded by the U.S. Department of State and managed by the Ralph J. Bunche International Affairs Center at Howard University, supports extraordinary individuals who want to pursue a career in the U.S. Foreign Service.

The Rangel Fellowship will provide Billingsley with approximately $90,000 in benefits over a two-year period to pursue a master’s degree in international affairs.

As part of the Rangel program, Billingsley will work for a member of Congress this summer on issues regarding foreign affairs and then attend the Cornell University Institute of Public Affairs (CIPA) starting next fall. In the summer of 2014, the U.S. Department of State will send him overseas to work in a U.S. Embassy to get hands-on experience with U.S. foreign policy and the work of the Foreign Service. Upon graduation, he will become a U.S. diplomat.

“As a person who wants to make a career in the State Department, this program is perfect for me,” Billingsley says. “I’m so happy my interest in international relations has paid off with a fellowship and a secure job.”

Billingsley, who is from Blytheville, Ark., is a senior sport management and political science major at MU. As MSA president, Billingsley managed a budget of over one million dollars while helping to start a food pantry, managing a safe rides program and advocating for a smoke-free campus.

Last year, he participated in a diplomacy trip to Russia where he was exposed to U.S. Foreign Service Officers, sparking his interest in international affairs. He also participated in a mission trip to Jamaica and is currently serving as an intern at the U.S. Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica.

“My time as MSA President was the true confirmation of me wanting to go into international affairs,” Billingsley says. “My travels to Russia for the student leadership diplomacy trip and my time with Chancellor Brady Deaton really gave me a passion for global human rights.”

In addition to Deaton, Billingsley credits other mentors at MU such as DeAngela Burns-Wallace, director of access initiatives, and Moises Arce and Bill Horner of the Department of Political Science for helping him reach this accomplishment. “They gave me the academic, analytical and practical support that I needed to be successful in international affairs,” he says.

“We are thrilled to have Xavier as part of the program,” Patricia Scroggs, director of the Rangel Program, says. “Xavier has already demonstrated leadership and impressive academic achievements in his career at the University of Missouri, as well as a strong commitment to community service in his professional endeavors. I have no doubt that he will excel in graduate school and make important contributions to promoting global peace and prosperity as a U.S. diplomat.”

The Rangel Program is a joint initiative between the U.S. State Department and Howard University that aims to enhance the excellence and diversity of the U.S. Foreign Service. Begun in 2003, the Rangel Fellowship Program selects outstanding young people each year from around the country who exhibit the ideal qualities of a Foreign Service Officer. Managed by the Ralph J. Bunche Center at Howard University, the Rangel Fellowship supports those selected through graduate school and professional development activities that prepare them for their careers as Foreign Service Officers. With the academic, professional and financial support from the program, Fellows now serve as diplomats around the world, contributing to a more diverse representation and effective execution of U.S. foreign policy.