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Alumni Spotlight

Read about this month’s International Studies Alumni Spotlight. Alumni were asked to share how their International Studies major or minor has influenced their path after graduating from the University of Michigan.

December 2021

Nathaniel Maekawa

BS International Studies (Global Health and Environment); minor, Medical Anthropology, '18

Hometown: Austin, TX

University of Michigan Affiliations: Graham Sustainability Scholars, Health Science Scholars Program, Global Intercultural Experience for Undergraduates, Michigan Backpacking Club

Majoring in International Studies provided flexibility, support, and exposure to global issues and diverse perspectives. Through department funding, I studied environmental conservation and sustainability with the EcoQuest Foundation in New Zealand, and pursued an internship in Madagascar with the marine conservation and sustainable livelihoods NGO, ReefDoctor. These experiences, coupled with a curriculum that encouraged me to think about global issues and my role in these issues' solutions, prepared me to enter the post-grad realm with eagerness, capability, and ambition. Following graduation, I began my Peace Corps service in Mongolia as a Health Education volunteer. For almost two years, I helped to design and co-teach health lessons for middle and high school students. During this time, I became passionate about environmental and youth leadership initiatives. More specifically, I worked with my fellow teachers to facilitate after school leadership, environmental, and writing clubs. In the summertime, alongside community leaders, I helped to organize a youth professional and leadership development camp to connect rural students with resources and skills to pursue their post-secondary goals. Additionally, I assisted the Mongol Ecology Center with their summer Junior Ranger camp's programming and facilitation. During my Peace Corps service, I applied and was accepted to the Thomas R. Pickering Fellowship. In addition to seeking pathways to attend graduate school, I was excited by the chance to pursue a career that would embody aspects of learning, purpose, and service. I learned in the Peace Corps that my most successful projects were dependent on my community relationships and engagement. These projects were grounded by communication that ensured that a project was addressing relevant needs and utilizing the skills and resources of everyone involved. As a Pickering Fellow, I will pursue a career in public service as a Foreign Service Officer. I have the chance to continue to build relationships with people around the world, while working together toward solutions that are sustainable and positive