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Student Spotlight

Read about this month’s International Studies Student Spotlight. Students were asked to share an influential experience they had that connected to their International Studies major or minor.

November 2020

Alexandra Pejas

BA International Studies (Political Economy and Development); BA Economics ‘20

Hometown: Sterling Heights, MI

Affiliations: European Horizons VP, AIESEC Team Leader, Michigan Foreign Policy Council, PSIP, Research Assistant for the Political Science Department, Office Assistant for PICS

“I’ve been the Vice President of European Horizons at Michigan since my sophomore year - an on-campus organization that fosters conversations about transatlantic affairs. My language/cultural focus for International Studies is Eastern Europe so I’ve been able to incorporate the topics we cover in my classes into our conversations, specifically when it comes to Hungary and Poland, considering their controversial status in the European Union right now. The historical trends and cultural aspects that I’ve learned in these courses were extremely useful during my entire experience as VP, and it also allowed me to bring attention to a region of Europe that’s oftentimes overlooked in more mainstream media.

This summer I worked with the National Immigration Forum’s Integrations Team, whose work focuses on providing support to immigrant workers in American corporations, such as English language classes and citizenship services. Though I knew that an International Studies background opened doors for me abroad, working for the Forum helped me realize just how versatile the major is, and that it can apply to areas within the United States as well. Prior to this experience, I knew the immigration sphere in America was concerned with policy and advocacy initiatives. However, I had no idea that there were groups like my Integrations Team which were providing legal and language support, and working with immigrants directly. My internship underlined the importance of promoting immigration, but also working with the people themselves, so that their experiences at work and in their communities reflect their needs.”

Future plans: “I’d love to work at the United Nations or the European Union one day - focusing on human rights and developmental economics in Eastern Europe/Eurasia specifically. Becoming an ambassador for the United States is also something I’ve considered, but not sure when in life I’d want to pursue that yet!”