Phoenix HS graduate on track to become US diplomat

PHOENIX, Ore. —A former Phoenix High School student is on track to potentially become a US diplomat! Irving Cortes-Martinez is a Mexican American immigrant. At age 6, he started calling the Rogue Valley home.

“Since high school I always loved history I always loved government,” said Cortes-Martinez.

While attending Phoenix High School, Cortes-Martinez took AP American Government and honors International Studies. His teacher, John Cornet, has taught history at Phoenix High School for over two decades.

“He was always sharp and driven one of the kindest people you could possibly imagine meeting, always asking very inquisitive questions,” said Cornet.

After Cortez-Martinez graduated, he moved to New York, where he studied political science at Union College. It was then he decided to explore a career in diplomacy and international relations.

“I remember my freshman year I took Model UN class which really brought my attention to diplomacy so that was really the first step that I took to being interested,” said Cortes-Martinez.

Eventually, he applied to a prestigious fellowship program, where he was one of over 1500 applicants. To his surprise, he was accepted. The Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellowship Program will support him through a 2-year master’s degree, where he’ll study abroad in a US embassy. After his completion of the program, he will be given the opportunity to become a US diplomat in the summer of 2024.

“It was very surreal, to be honest, last year I had applied and didn’t get it, unfortunately, so this year I didn’t have much hope that I would get it, I just like I was dreaming or something,” said Cortes-Martinez.

Now his next step in Washington DC, where he’ll begin the fellowship in May.

“This is a great opportunity and I hope that in the long run, I hope I will be able to create positive change in the world,” said Cortes-Martinez.

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Jenna King is the 6pm and 11pm anchor for NBC5 News. Jenna is a Burbank, CA native. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Sports Business. During her time at Oregon she was part of the student-run television station, Duck TV. She also grew her passion for sports through her internship with the PAC 12 Network. When Jenna is not in the newsroom you can find her rooting for her hometown Dodgers, exploring the outdoors or binging on the latest Netflix release.
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