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Thargay First Student at UMass to be Awarded American Ambassadors Fellowship

By Emilie Ferreira, SBS Associate Director of External Affairs for Communication & Events

If you were to look at a list of Tenzin Thargay’s impressive accomplishments, you would never guess that he was just wrapping up his second year at UMass. Thargay is an active member of the SBS Academic Leadership Fellows Program, a recipient of the Kathryn Davis Fellowship for Peace, as well as the recipient of the prestigious Salute to Service Scholarship from the UMass Alumni Association – and these are just a few items you might find on his C.V. His most recent achievement, being awarded the Council for American Ambassadors Fellowship in Washington, D.C., marks him as the first UMass student in history to receive this prestigious award. Only those who have an internship with the U.S. Department of State are eligible.

“For my State Department internship, I’ll be working in the Office of International Religious Freedom within the Bureau of Democracy Human Rights and Labor,” says Thargay, a political science major. “When I secured that internship, I received an email saying I was eligible to apply for the Fellowship. This year, the Fellowship was only awarded to six undergraduates, so I wasn’t sure if I’d get it. But receiving that email of acceptance was truly a testament to how much work I’ve done at UMass and the experiences afforded to me by not only UMass, but also SBS specifically. Being the first UMass student to receive this Fellowship is truly humbling.”

Thargay will live in a dorm at George Washington University, taking classes in economics and foreign policy at George Mason University. “The best part of my Fellowship is that I’ll be mentored by a former U.S. Ambassador,” he says. “Everything—the classes, the networking, the mentorship—will provide me with the holistic D.C. experience.”

Thargay is no stranger to being involved with foreign policy in D.C., having attended a conference for the International Campaign for Tibet last year. “At the conference, I got to see the State Department and the work that’s done there. We got to attend a press briefing and stand in front of the podium where the press speaks. I remember thinking, ‘I’d love to be back here one day,’ and lo and behold I’ll be back this summer!”

In the midst of applying for his internship and fellowship this summer, Thargay has started another project at UMass. He has coordinated, along with the Vice Chancellor’s Office, the Five College Conference for Compassionate Leadership on April 16th. He has invited the Dalai Lama’s principal translator, Dr. Thupten Jinpa, to give a keynote speech on compassionate leadership at UMass for this conference, and he has arranged a panel of professors from the Five Colleges to discuss what exactly compassion means. These professors are from all areas of study, which is something Thargay finds extremely important, because it will show students how compassionate leadership transcends disciplines.

 “I started planning this conference in December of 2015, after reflecting on what a terrible year 2015 was,” explains Thargay. “There was so much conflict domestically and abroad, from racial issues to the refugee crisis, that I asked myself, ‘what’s missing?’ I realized what was missing: compassion; understanding the other side without making assumptions. I realized that the Five College Consortium is one of the strongest academic regions in America, so it’s no secret that some of our future leaders will emerge from one of the five schools. I thought that if we plant these seeds of compassionate leadership in them now, when they graduate, those seeds will start to blossom and we could start to create positive change.

Thargay raves about his education not only at UMass but throughout the Five College Consortium. “The possibilities are endless here. The Five Colleges serve as a catalyst that affords me all these tremendous opportunities. I’m excited to see what my next two years hold.”

Learn more about the Five College Conference for Compassionate Leadership or visit theConference Facebook Page.


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