By Miranda Morton, FCRH '15
Last January, I made the difficult decision to drop the pre-med track halfway through my junior year. I made this change after some serious introspection and self-questioning. Despite being only 3 courses away from completing either a Biology degree, Environmental Science degree, or General Science degree (all of which I’ve declared at one point or another), I could no longer pretend to myself that pursuing a career in the medical field or devoting my life to scientific research would ever make me happy. It only took two and a half years, but I finally conceded that my passion has always been learning about other nations—their governments, cultures, religions, environmental practices, and relationships with other countries.
The part that made this decision so difficult was that I had no idea what people are supposed to do with an International Studies major! With a science degree, my future felt more straightforward: to become a dentist would mean going to dental school, which means completing the prerequisites during my undergrad studies. With a humanities degree, however, my career no longer depends on the acquisition of a D.D.S. but rather on the types of opportunities I seek, the ideas I come up with, and the drive I have to succeed.
One of the first opportunities presented to me after switching majors came from my new International Studies advisor. He was advertising for an internship at the United Nations taking place within the Department of Public Information (DPI), whose mission is “to promote global awareness and understanding of the work of the United Nations.” After applying and interviewing, I became one of two Fordham Youth Representatives for the 2014/2015 school year.
Since my internship commenced in September, I have attended high-level briefings with preeminent figures in attendance, like Ban Ki-moon and Helen Clark, international days of celebration, including the International Day of Non-Violence and the International Day of Older Persons, an intimate small committee meeting with the NGO Committee on Education, and mid-level dialogues on post-2015 implementation of action agenda items.
Though this is my first internship and I’ve only been on the job for two months, I can see how this internship experience is unique. Much of my job description remains undefined, allowing me to craft my experience in the most beneficial way I see fit. Yes, part of the job description includes attending briefings, writing summaries, keeping up a blog, and bringing other students to the UN, but if that were all I was doing, I’d be missing out.
With the liberty I’ve been granted, I’ve truly been able to take advantage of this learning experience. By virtue of events and conferences, the DPI brings together UN officials and NGOs from around the world, all representing different causes. This has made networking incredibly easy for me and has already allowed me to garner resources and contacts for developing my future career. I’ve also had the chance to share my experience by spreading knowledge of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals and forthcoming Sustainable Development Goals. My predominant goal as a Youth Representative is to keep the Fordham population informed with the goings-on at the UN, so that we may become more enlightened and more united in our action towards bettering our world, and more specifically, our own Bronx community. By collaborating and forming partnerships, we can help implement the UN’s agenda.
One thing I’ve learned at the UN is that though there is war, anxiety, and tension throughout the world, there also exists a strong commitment to create prosperity for all nations. My time at the UN has thus far cultivated my passion for examining global challenges and analyzing possible solutions. As I consider my future, I hope to pursue further opportunities that would allow me to become involved in the global initiative for a better and more sustainable world. Though I still have no idea what people with an International Studies major “do”, this internship has allowed me to explore the myriad avenues stretched out before me.
If you're interested in becoming a Fordham Youth Representative for the 2015/2016 school year, please contact Ms. Kelly Roberts at email@example.com. Applications are due in May.