Oct. 12, 2009
Mariela Rodriguez has experienced first hand what it’s like to work for her dream job at the United Nations.
The 21-year-old was a member of Georgia State University’s award winning Model United Nations team, which allows students to participate in professional simulations of the U.N. in the United States. Student delegates learn to make speeches, prepare draft resolutions, negotiate with allies and adversaries, and work together to resolve problems that affect countries all over the world.
“My personal passion is for refugees, so I hope to one day work for the United Nations Refugee Agency,” said Rodriguez, who represented China for Georgia State during the National Model United Nations conference in New York this year. “I’ve traveled and seen extreme poverty where people don’t have the basic needs that we take for granted every day. A lot of people leave because of economics and getting a job, but I can’t think of being forced to just pick up from where you are because of conflict and natural disasters.”
Rodriguez, a senior majoring in political science and minoring in Italian, will continue to pursue her humanitarian interests this fall as an intern at the Carter Center. She also has been selected for a trip to Toronto to present a research paper about “Aid and Democratization in Africa” at the American Political Science Association’s annual meeting.
“Africa has always been my region of interest, maybe because there are so many refugee populations,” said Rodriguez, who was selected to present the paper as one of the top students participating in the Ralph Bunch Summer Institute, an intensive program designed to simulate the graduate school experience and broaden minority interest into political science.
Rodriguez has served in numerous leadership roles on Georgia State’s campus such as vice president of Student Life for the Student Government Association, co-president of the Freshman- Sophomore Political Science Honor Society, vice president of the Italian Club, president of the Latin American Student Association, and historian for Alpha Lambda Delta. She also worked as a student assistant in the Study Abroad office and the Major Matters program.
And although it may be hard to believe that Rodriguez has spare time, she says she can often be found at the Student Recreation Center taking dance classes.
“It’s a sense of responsibility to take part in your university,” Rodriguez said. “You don’t have to join an organization, but whether you want to make the department you are majoring in better or you’re working for longer library hours you need to find agents through which you can make changes and be engaged in whatever you decide to do.”