Equipped to Lead and Succeed

Student Lands Job in U.S. Foreign Service

He’s one of 15 chosen for technology fellowship program

by Evan Elliot, USF News

Levi Kottut ’25 is two years away from graduation but he’s already kicked off his career.

Levi Kottut

Kottut, an engineering major with a concentration in electrical and computer engineering, has been named a Foreign Affairs Information Technology (FAIT) Fellow — one of only 15 students chosen from applicants all over the country.

Have Funding, Will Travel
As an FAIT fellow, Kottut is employed by the U.S. Department of State. He receives up to $87,000 in academic funding over two years. He will have one paid internship in Washington, D.C., in summer 2024 and another at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad in summer 2025.

Kottut learned about the fellowship in an email from the engineering program.

“I love to travel and I love computer engineering, so I decided to apply,” Kottut said. “In April they told me I was a finalist. That’s when the interviews began — two rounds of written interviews and spoken interviews. It was stressful.”

Kottut was born in New York but grew up in Kenya, Switzerland, and Sweden. He told his interviewers that he speaks Swahili and French as well as English.

On a Saturday morning in late April, he was making pancakes for friends when he got the good news in an email.

“I started shouting and jumping around the kitchen. My friends thought I was insane.”

They Have His Back
Kottut thanks two of his engineering professors for their help. “Lauren Sassoubre is always there for me with advice and emotional support and academic support. Genna Smith wrote me a letter of recommendation for this fellowship. I don’t know what she wrote but I’m sure it helped.”

After graduation, each FAIT fellow serves a five-year term as an information management specialist in the U.S. Foreign Service. Kottut will be placed in an embassy or consulate in at least two different countries during those five years, he said.

“I don’t know where I’ll go or what I’ll be doing, but I look forward to it.”


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This USF News story was published in USF Magazine, where you can find feature stories about university life, alumni Class Notes, and information about events at USF.