by Matt Raab
Any school prides itself on the resources it provides to its students. It is in large part up to the students, however, to take advantage of opportunities that present themselves. For Carolina Sosa (SFS’19), engagement and excitement have been a central part of her SFS experience.
Initially skeptical of the international relations-specific orientation of the School of Foreign Service, Sosa was drawn to some of Georgetown’s offerings as she progressed through the college selection process.
“I loved Georgetown’s location, social justice focus, and commitment to meet 100% of demonstrated need, so I knew I was going to apply anyway, I just wasn’t sure if [I should] try for the College or SFS,” Sosa explained.
The example of Dean Carol Lancaster eventually stood out as an inspiring model for Sosa.
“I loved the idea of a school being so dedicated to international affairs, but feared being tied down to quickly. Through researching the SFS, I learned about Dean Lancaster’s passing and I remember reading her bio on the Georgetown website and feeling so inspired,” Sosa said. “Six languages, a Fulbright, a world traveler, and a first generation student, like myself! Seeing that she was an SFS graduate, was a further push to me, seeing that I would be going through a similar curriculum that got her to the place she was.”
Sosa was admitted to the School of Foreign Service with the help of an admissions essay that was highlighted by the New York Times. From there, Sosa has enjoyed the wealth of opportunities for on-campus engagement, starting with pre-orientation programs.
“One of my favorite things about my Georgetown journey was that it began so early,” she said. “As a member of the Community Scholars Program (CSP), I arrived on campus in July 2015 and spent five weeks taking classes, exploring D.C., getting connected to resources, and making life-long friends. Two weeks after CSP, I returned to participate in FOCI – First Year Orientation to Community Involvement, a pre-orientation program focused on addressing social justice issues in D.C.”
Today, Sosa is involved with a variety of diversity focused organizations on and off campus, and is part of a research seminar on forced migration, all vessels to bring together her professional and personal experiences.
“On campus, I’m an intern at the GU School of Medicine’s Office of Diversity of Inclusion, a mentor for the Emerging Leaders Programs, a member of the Provost’s Committee for Diversity, a participant in the Way of Peace Fellowship, a campus tour guide, and a proud resident of the Global Living Community,” she said.
Initial concerns about the academic relevance of an SFS degree to Sosa’s interests were assuaged as she got a better idea of where her concerns fit into the bigger picture SFS presented, with guidance from the SFS Dean’s Office.
“Dean Zenick has become an important person in my SFS career and has been an advisor during my time in the Century Scholars Initiative and Centennial Honors Innovation Program,” Sosa said. “She agreed to meet with me and was able to talk me through all the different thoughts I had. Together, she helped me figure out what I was actually interested in and let me see how the SFS could support it. Most importantly she also helped me understand, that while I did not see it initially, my core classes will be relevant to any career path I choose to take.”
The CULP program has been another critical part of her experience at SFS.
“[CULP] is so unique compared to any other international affairs major,” Sosa said. “It allows for the flexibility to pursue your passions and explore different interests. I’m planning on studying the role media plays in advancing social justice issues from a global lens.”
After SFS, Sosa sees a wide range of potential opportunities that draw on her interests and experiences.
“As of right now I could see myself either working in Central America to improve access to public education for girls or conducting research on the Latinx experience in the United States and being a sociology professor,” she said. “I love to travel, I want to work with young people, and I need to make a difference in the world, those three factors are my main criteria and I’m open to any career that fits.”
For the current SFS student, Sosa advises a similarly independent open-mindedness, encouraging students to think carefully about where they might get involved.
“My biggest advice is to form your own path. Don’t do any clubs because you think they’ll look good on a resume or because everyone else is applying,” she said. “Selectivity does not equate to enjoyment. If you care more about getting in than about actually being involved in the organization, that’s a problem.”
She also advocated for off-campus opportunities.
“As much as I like my fellow Hoyas, I also love meeting people from every type of background and I go out of my way to find these opportunities,” she said. “I am currently trying to get more involved with the Latino professionals of D.C. and [have] been attending local events.”
Two years into her time on the Hilltop, Sosa is embracing the opportunities, knowledge and perspective offered by SFS–all the way down to a love-hate relationship with economics.
“While I may not see it initially, my core classes will be relevant to any career path I choose to take. I didn’t like economics back then, I still don’t like economics now, but I understand why it’s important for me to take it.”