As they prepare to pursue their dreams after graduation, the Program in International and Comparative studies would like to celebrate some of our graduating seniors.

This week, meet Paulina Buchta. Buchta is a PICS senior studying international security, norms and cooperation as well pursuing a second and third major in political science and Polish with a minor in business.

A daughter of Polish immigrants, Buchta jokingly considers herself an “unofficial diplomat to the United States.” Since childhood, she’s always had an interest in foreign relations between the U.S. and Eastern Europe. A desire to help people drew Buchta to medicine, but by college, Buchta reflected, “I knew I wasn’t passionate about it.” Meanwhile, her passion for international studies hadn’t dwindled: “I realized that it is worth following what you want to do… It’s been what I’ve wanted since I was a kid.” Buchta added, “helping people doesn’t have to be only in a medical setting, there’s so many other ways to do that –– like diplomacy.”

On her ambitious academic course load –- three majors, a minor and an honors thesis –– Buchta remarked “all the pieces just fell into place [that way].” Buchta sees her international studies major as her academic core, offering an interdisciplinary outlook while her business classes offered more “technical skills.” The result is an “umbrella of opportunity” allowing Buchta to be as flexible in life as she is in her studies.

This past summer, Buchta found an unexpected but welcome opportunity in a virtual internship with NBC. “It was super random, I never thought I would…. [find myself] in journalism,” Buchta confided. She had originally hoped to find herself working with the State Department. When those plans fell through, Buchta shrugged off the loss and continued to apply to a variety of positions –– including NBC. Buchta spent her time working within consumer investigative reporting, researching, and pitching stories of interest. Two bylines and a winning marketing pitch helped Buchta earn her journalism stripes. When asked if she had been bitten by the writing bug, Buchta responded with a confident “Yes!”

“It was a blessing in disguise, and brought me where I am now,” Buchta reflected. For Buchta’s diplomatic dreams, the second time proved to be the charm –– Her application for the fall internship program with the State Department was a success. Now, she’s working with the American embassy in Poland, completing Polish-English translations for an American foreign affairs officer.

In addition to her internship with the State Department, Buchta is completing an honors thesis focused on the media’s response to covid-19 in Poland and the Czech Republic. Her experience studying abroad in Poland along with her foray in news media with NBC have both inspired her thesis.

For the future, Buchta said, “I’m trying to keep an open mind.” Given the opportunity, she’d like to continue her work with the State Department or delve deeper into journalism. Graduate school, post-graduate jobs –– anything is on the table. “Right now, I’m just trying to see where life takes me.” Buchta added with a smile, “I know I’ll end up where I belong, even if it takes a little bit longer to get there.”

In her free time, Buchta loves to travel almost as much as she loves to plan trips. Ann Arbor, too, offers some excitement –- Her recommendation? A walk down main street and a delicious meal at Jerusalem Garden. For her fellow students, Buchta offered the same advice she applies to her own life: “Keep an open mind –– you won’t miss out on what’s meant for you.”