UC San Diego News Center


Robertson Foundation for Government Pledges Nearly $1 Million for UC San Diego Graduate Students

Additional $500,000 gift to commence at conclusion of current pledge

Several University of California, San Diego graduate students will receive full financial support over the next few years thanks to an additional $500,000 gift from the Robertson Foundation for Government. This most recent gift is an extension of the foundation’s initial commitment of $450,000, which was pledged in 2010 and created the Robertson Fellows Program at UC San Diego’s School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IR/PS). Each gift is pledged over four years and covers expenses for outstanding students to complete their master’s degree at IR/PS. As a requirement of the Robertson Fellows Program, students commit to working for the federal government for at least three of the first five years after graduation.

“We are looking forward to continuing our partnership with UC San Diego’s wonderful School of International Relations and Pacific Studies,” said Katherine R. Ernst, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Robertson Foundation. “It is the foundation’s mission to strengthen the U.S. government and increase its ability to extend and defend freedom and democracy around the world. To accomplish this, we need to encourage talented students like the Robertson Fellows to serve in our government.”

Established in 2010, the Robertson Foundation invests several million dollars annually to provide funding for scholarships, graduate fellowships, mid-career training programs and other initiatives to address the talent needs of the federal government in the areas of foreign policy, national security and international affairs. It is one of the only private foundations in the country to support students interested in pursuing federal government careers.

“We are extremely grateful for this generous gift from the Robertson Foundation,” said Dean Peter Cowhey. “With the foundation’s support we can continue to attract exceptionally talented students to IR/PS. These students can then go on to become the high-caliber professionals that are so critically needed in the federal government.”

Three fellows have been named each year since the program began in 2010. The first class of fellows graduated from IR/PS this past summer and two of the three—Katy Donovan and Sharon McCoy—are currently living and working in Washington, D.C. The third fellow, Chas Culverwell, is awaiting security clearance related to two job offers. The second class of fellows—Marian Nguyen, Jordan Wilson and Adrián Pavía—secured summer internships at the U.S. Embassy in Lima, Peru; the U.S. Department of Defense at United States Southern Command in Miami, Florida; and, the Office of Marketing and Communications at the U.S. Commercial Service in Washington, D.C., respectively.

The 2012-2013 Robertson Fellows are:

Kent Caswell Boydston

Kent Caswell Boydston, a cum laude graduate of the University of California, Irvine with a B.A. in Political Science and a minor in Spanish. After graduation, he taught English in both South and North Korea and studied Korean at Yonsei University in Seoul. Upon returning to the U.S. he worked to support citizen diplomacy efforts of the U.S. State Department through an internship with the National Council for International Visitors in Washington, D.C. Boydston speaks Korean and Spanish.


Shannon Morrison

Shannon Morrison, a summa cum laude graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara with a B.A. in Business Economics and a minor in Professional Writing for Business Communications. As an undergraduate, she did an internship with the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. After graduating, she served as a Peace Corps volunteer in a small, rural village in Suriname for two years. Morrison is fluent in Saramaccan, a Portuguese-based Creole, and is currently learning Spanish.


Eli Yani

Eli Yani, an honors graduate of the University of California, Davis with a B.A. in Political Science and Classical Civilizations. As an undergraduate, he served as financial controller for the Associated Students of UC Davis and studied abroad at the University of Hong Kong, which furthered his desire to work as a Foreign Service officer. Since graduation, Yani has worked as a research analyst for a public affairs firm. He speaks Latin and some Hebrew.

To learn more about IR/PS and the Robertson Fellows, visit

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