Student Testimonials

Students pose with California Representative Adam Schiff in his NY office

Oxy-at-the-U.N. is DWA’s signature program, the only in the world able to offer internships at the United Nations to undergraduate students studying International Affairs.

Each fall semester, students accepted into this program intern in a U.N. office, related agency or national mission and take two advanced level classes in the areas of Peace, Security, and Development.  Past internship placements have included positions in the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, UN Radio, the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, the Office for Disarmament Affairs, and country missions to the U.N. 

2018 Students
2017 Students
2015 Students

2018 Students

Marianna Babboni

Major: DWA

Minor: Religious Studies 

Marianna is working at  UNHCR, the UN’s refugee agency. Her dedication to the plight of refugees and her interest in migration flows both stem from her summer spent working at an initial reception center in Southern Italy and her internship with CARECEN, a non-profit immigration law center in Los Angeles. “The connections and friendships I have made during my practical experiences on the field," Marianna shares, “are what drive my work at UNHCR’s New York office this semester." She is most excited about attending meetings and writing briefings on the Global Compact on Refugees that Filippo Grandi, the High Commissioner for Refugees, will advocate for during this 73rd General Assembly session. She is also hoping to sneak in a picture with him!

 

Rhea Bhatia

Major: Psychology

Minor: Chinese Studies

Rhea is interning with UNDP BPPS Gender Team.  She spent the summer working at the Occidental College Undergraduate Research Center.  She’s looking forward to supporting the implementation of the SDGs with a special focus on gender equality.  “By empowering nations to be more inclusive, UNDP is able to focus on conflict prevention and resolution and highlights a global standard for achieving gender equality in order to achieve the SDG’s. In the past I have learned about gender based violence at a micro scale from local NGO's in LA. This internship gives me exposure to how bolstering the capacity of local governments and enacting policies through gender-responsive public institutions can enact change at a macro level.".  Rhea is particularly interested in the role of women in leadership and government to stopping gender based violence and achieving development.

 

Mia Coleman

Major: DWA

Mia is interning this fall at the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).  She’s very excited to be a part of the team at UNFPA and to contribute to the broad range of initiatives the Agency is involved in.  Working in the Gender, Human Rights and Culture Branch Mia is excited to bring together her experiences at Oxy and abroad towards the mission of the UNFPA  A Boston native, Mia is no stranger to NYC, but is excited to live in the city and take advantage of the opportunities this affords.  She hopes to make use of her Arabic and French language skills in her work for in the UN system.

 

Juliana Durning

Major: DWA and Spanish 

Juliana is interning this semester for the UN Permanent Mission to Costa Rica. After spending the past semester in Valparaíso, Chile, she worked at a children's tech camp and as a research assistant for Occidental Professor Douglas Gardner for the remainder of the summer. She researched gendered issues of tropical crop production in Costa Rica with a focus on Nicaraguan migrant women. Juliana is inspired by the UN's dedicated work on the macro level of human development and global problem-solving. This semester, she is excited to speak Spanish at her internship and to fully experience New York City.

 

Chidire Ezeh

Major: DWA

Minor: French Studies 

Chidire is working with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP),  HIV and Health team that supports countries in their efforts to reduce inequalities, increase social inclusion, and pinpoint the determinants of health outcomes. This summer he learned the inner workings of the public sector while interning with the City of Los Angeles Mayoral Office. His work focused on localizing the UN Sustainable Development Goals in preparation for the 2028 Olympic Games and to provide the city with a set of recommendations on issues that should be prioritized. Chidire's passion for his work stems from his childhood living in Nairobi, Kenya where poverty and affluence often share the same street. "The UN cares for the most vulnerable populations who are often overlooked even by their own governments. Their bottom-up approach and leave-no-one-behind mentality is what draws me to their work, and I am excited and honoured to be part of the team."

 

Manjun Hao

Major: DWA

Minor: Urban Environmental Policy

Manjuan is interning at the UNDP SDG team and is excited to see the power everyday people have to make the world a better place.  This summer Manjun interned at a nonprofit fiscal sponsor researching nonprofit market trends and providing administrative assistance to nonprofits started by community members. She's excited to delve into the implementation of SDGs and learn about different stakeholders' perspectives on the matter.

 

 

Ovie Kabba

Major: DWA and Spanish

Ovie is working with the UN High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR), this semester. This summer she received a Young Grant and interned at Proyde, an NGO based in Madrid, Spain which works to transform the social, economic, and political structures that cause injustice and inequality throughout the developing world. Her thematic interests lay in conflict prevention, democratization, peace-building, rule of law and the flow of people and she is excited to explore the intersection of these issues in the complexities of protecting refugees as well as becoming more familiar with the inner workings of the UN system.

 

Aditya Kankipati

Major: DWA

Minor: Chinese Studies 

Aditya spent this summer in Mumbai, India, interning at TataCLiQ, an online retail store, working in the digital marketing division. This semester, he will be interning at the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), with a particular interest in how the agency creates training programs to guide diplomats through the international system who work to further not only national interests, but also the three pillars of the United Nations. The trip to Costa Rica is something he is excited for, both to see a new country, and also to see how a United Nations Field Mission operates.

 

Halla Keir

Major: DWA

Minor: Politics

This fall Halla will be interning with the UN UNRWA is the Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). She has been studying and working on issues around Palestinian rights since her first year at Oxy, and is excited to continue this work with the UN. This summer, Halla worked as a Policy and Advocacy intern at the Yemen Peace Project, working specifically on arms sales and legislation between the U.S. and parties involved in the conflict in Yemen. She is excited to continue her focus in the Middle East and North Africa region through the lens of an international organization and understanding further the pressures that Palestinian refugees and UNRWA face in the current climate.

 

Ashley Leon

Major: History Major (Pre-Law Track)

During the summer, Ashley interned for the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF). As a legal intern, she had the opportunity to conduct legal research and help create legal strategies for our ongoing cases in the areas of immigrant rights, voting rights, and education. She is interning for the Permanent Mission of Guatemala to the United Nations and is excited to put theory into practice and to see history in the making while working and conversing with UN professionals. Studying and interning for an organization that strives for perpetual peace inspires her to work towards a world free from war, hunger, illness, and inequality in her future career as an attorney.

 

Maddie Lubeck

Major: DWA

Minor: Religious Studies 

This semester Maddie will be working at the Permanent Mission of Rwanda to the UN. She was inspired by learning about the work of Sergio Vieira de Mello this summer, and in particular learning from his experiences in Rwanda. She looks forward to learning about and meeting other inspirational people who strive for the mission of the UN every day. She is particularly excited for the Costa Rica trip and the opportunity to explore how ideas and theories are implemented in the field.

 

Cassandra Madrazo

Major: DWA

Minor: Studio Art 

Cassandra is currently interning for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Communication For Development office. Cassandra loves her work at UNICEF because it shows the intersection between children’s development and international concerns. Prior to interning for UNICEF, Cassandra worked for Women and Youth Supporting Each Other (WYSE) and Tom Sawyer Camps where she got to further her appreciation and passion for children’s development. Cassandra hopes to learn as much as she can this semester, including navigating the subway and New Yorker walking etiquette.

 

Andrea Snyder

Major: DWA

Andrea will be joining the First Committee at the Costa Rica Permanent Mission to the United Nations. Early this summer, Andrea interned for Ashoka – Innovators for the Public in Washington, D.C. As an Africa Diamond Partnerships Intern, Andrea was most impressed by youth entrepreneurs and “changemaker" stories that have effectively shifted policy around the world. Later in the summer, Andrea worked for the Consular Affairs section at the U.S. Embassy Dakar, Senegal. She was grateful to return to West Africa and reconnect with friends and family after four years of being away. Andrea enjoys learning about different cultures and has spent time living in France, New Zealand, Panama, Peru, and Senegal. While at the United Nations, she hopes to gain a better understanding of the organization’s internal operations and what drives the individuals working under its umbrella.

 

Zach Solomon

Major: DWA

Minor: History 

Zach will be working at the UK Mission to the UN. This summer he worked with the Los Angeles Mayor's office of International Affairs on localizing the Sustainable Development Goals with a specific focus on the nonprofit sector. He also had the opportunity to travel in China with a group of students and professors from Oxy, studying rural and urban development in the country.  Zach hopes to learn more about how development relates with security in the UN system.  Zach is also excited to see how diplomacy functions on a day to day basis and is especially interested in how the UK approaches challenges and defines itself in the current political climate.

 

Poppy Thekdi

Major: DWA

Poppy will be working this semester at the Rwanda Mission to the United Nations, with a specific focus on peacekeeping. Poppy is interested in learning more about environmental sustainability in economic development, the intricacies of international human rights law and the emerging challenges of globalization. She loves cooking, music and art, and is hoping to explore some gallery openings in between committee meetings!

 

 

Claire Van Fossen

Major: DWA

Minor: French Studies 

This summer Claire coached gymnastics and began research for her senior comprehensive project. Claire will be working in the UK mission to the UN and is excited to get to witness diplomacy in action.  She hopes to gain insight into how international organizations work to combat global conflict and maintain international peace and security.  Claire enjoys healthy political conversations, nature, dance, farmer’s markets, working with young students, and traveling and hopes to experience some of everything during her semester in New York.

 

Olivia Wilk

Major: DWA and East Asian Studies 

This semester Olivia will intern at the United Nations Foundation. Throughout college, Olivia has spent extensive time studying, researching, and working in China where she discovered her love for of linking creative industries with social impact. Olivia looks forward to meeting inspiring people at the UN and using this time to explore New York City.

 

 

 

Jayne Wixtead

Major: DWA

Minor: Economics

Thanks to the Young Grant from Oxy Jayne was able to spend her summer working for the IAEA in Vienna with a focus on internal security and policy writing.  Jayne is excited to work as one of three Oxy students in the UK mission to the UN.  She's especially excited to see the UN from the perspective of a mission and hopes to gain insight into the resolution writing process.  While NYC is only an hour from home for Jayne, she's excited to have access to a wide range of events and opportunities.

 

 

2017 Students

Siyanna Ahmadu

Major: Economics 

Siyanna Ahmadu, the Third Committee Attaché at the Permanent Mission of the U.K. to the UN, majors in economics at Occidental. This summer, she worked at SmartBrief, where she had the wonderful opportunity to conclude by presenting a new product to the executives of the company. Reflecting on one of the two summer readings the G-17 completed, she said, “James Traub's book about Kofi Annan [The Best Intentions: Kofi Annan and the UN in the Era of American World Power] was interesting because it gave extensive details of the Secretary-General's demeanor expressed through body language and tone of voice during the interview sessions." Her favorite part of the fast-paced, exciting and humbling job is regularly attending EU Coordination meetings, during which member states discuss progress that has been made on the EU-burden sharing resolutions. She’s learned that words carry an immense weight at the UN from her close examination of several resolutions, such as those about human rights defenders and DPRK.

 

Sydney Bowman

Major: Diplomacy and World Affairs, Spanish

A Spanish and DWA double major, Sydney Bowman will join Ahmadu this semester at the U.K. mission. During the summer, she interned at MSI Integrity, a small nonprofit in San Francisco dedicated to investigating the effectiveness of multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSIs) in promoting and protecting human rights. With a passion for human rights, Bowman most looks forward to working on questions of human rights at the UK Mission and learning from all of the talented people who work there.

 

 

Will Butenschoen

Major: Diplomacy and World Affairs

Will Butenschoen majors in DWA and is one of two interns at the Permanent Mission of Costa Rica to the UN. He’s been most grateful for the exposure to learning the negotiating tools diplomats use to advance the missions of their delegations. Thinking about inspiring UN individuals, Butenschoen looks up to Sergio Vieira de Mello because he was a cooperative realist who invested in the institutions he thought could elevate dignity and wellbeing. He was empathetic  and professional. “I am inspired by how he could adapt to meet ‘diffuse and unpredictable challenges’ and hope to employ the principled, flexible, pragmatism such as he did in my everyday work," Butenschoen said of the former high-level humanitarian. When asked about his number one lesson from the semester, he said, “Point yourself in the right direction and don’t stop moving." As for New York City? He loves that he can walk anywhere, eat anything and enjoy the unique sounds of the city.

 

Shawn Cremer

Major: Diplomacy and World Affairs

Shawn Cremer studies DWA at Occidental and is the Global Policy and UN Relations intern at the United Nations Foundation this fall. His favorite part of the job is the level of creativity that he gets to bring. He gets to figure out how best to put together a room of people from all different sectors, including the UN and diplomatic missions of course, but also from businesses, universities, think tanks, civil society and non-governmental organizations and even influencers from the arts and media sectors. He loves  it because all aspects of the work are exercises in fulfilling trust and generating real ideas. He looks up to the late life-long UN servant Sergio Vieira de Mello as a philosopher/scholars-turned field officer who figured out how to enjoy life to its fullest and indulged, even while making huge humanitarian impacts on the ground. He’s been trying to take a page out of De Mello’s book in this expansive, chockablock semester, taking the chance to reconnect with many old friends who work in theatre. “I’ve been to more shows in the past two months than the past two years!"

 

Theresa Edwards

Major: Diplomacy and World Affairs, Spanish

Theresa Edwards, like many colleagues in the G-17, double majors in DWA and Spanish. This semester, she is the Third Committee Policy Adviser to the Permanent Mission of Guatemala to UN. “My favorite part of the job is listening to the briefings of the independent experts and special rapporteurs who come to the Third Committee. I’m learning so much about different human rights themes and situations around the world," Edwards said of her job. Speaking of rapporteurs, Edwards cites James Anaya, the former UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2008-2014) as the UN figure who inspires her the most. During his time as Special Rapporteur, Anaya was instrumental to the drafting of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. “He is an incredible lawyer, writer and advocate, and I would love to meet him someday," she said. She’s learned not to be afraid to introduce herself to people, even if they seem intimidating. No matter someone’s rank or title, everyone is just a human being. She’s made time on the weekends to explore the restaurants, parks, museums and festivals of NYC. A few of her favorite finds are the Highline in Chelsea, the Union Square farmer’s market, the Strand bookstore and, of course, Central Park. Having my go-to dessert and study spots has helped her feel at home in the city.

 

Jenna Feldman

Major: Diplomacy and World Affairs, Spanish

Jenna Feldman majors in Diplomacy & World Affairs (DWA) and Spanish and works this fall at the Permanent Mission of Rwanda to the UN. She spent the summer working as a retail associate at Pressed Juicery in Walnut Creek, CA, learning the ins and outs of customer service in the retail environment. She most looks forward to the Costa Rica trip this fall. “I was looking over the itinerary and can't wait for the opportunity to engage with the people/organizations with whom we're scheduled to visit," Feldman said.

 

 

 

Lily Goldfarb

Major: Diplomacy and World Affairs, Spanish

Lily Goldfarb studies DWA and Spanish at Oxy and she works at the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) this semester. After coming back from a semester abroad in Chile, she was able to spend time working at a summer camp in Wisconsin. “This work helped me realize how much I enjoy working with children and their development," said Goldfarb. Her impression of the summer reading was that it was an important preface to working within the UN system, as they reminded her to be a believer, constructive critic and active participant of the work of the UN.

 

Ryan Henderson

Major: Diplomacy and World Affairs, Economics

Ryan Henderson double majors in DWA and economics, minoring in Spanish. He is the Fourth Committee and peacekeeping policy adviser at the Rwanda Permanent Mission this fall. His favorite part of the job has been immersing himself and engaging in the UN's pluralistic atmosphere. “Hearing experts and member speak on a myriad of issues, from peacekeeping to decolonization, is an incredible opportunity," he said. He tries to approach each day as a 24/7 learning environment. “Within the UN realm, I'm always seeking ways to deepen my understanding of themes like peacekeeping, particularly in the context of Rwanda. Beyond the UN, I strive to connect my own experiences with what I learn in the Oxy-at-the-UN Program. This helps me foster for myself a holistic learning experience." Besides gaining professional experience and immersing in the diverse, dynamic environment of the UN, Henderson has enjoyed playing in a competitive basketball league several times a week as a way to unwind and engage with a lifelong passion. He still also hopes to appear in a Casey Neistat vlog during his time in the city.

 

Roz Jones

Major: Diplomacy and World Affairs

Roz Jones, a DWA senior, joins Will Butenschoen at Costa Rica’s UN Mission as the Third Committee policy adviser. “My favorite part of the job," Jones says, “is listening to the presentations of special rapporteurs in the third committee. These individuals have dedicated the majority of their lives to studying certain, sometimes very specific issues in the field of human rights and humanitarian issues." She’s impressed by their knowledge, passion and dedication. She calls Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin one of her professional role models and personal heroes. The late executive director of the United Nations Population Fund exhibited qualities Roz admires, mainly his undying dedication and passion for ensuring maternal and reproductive health care for women and girls around the world. So far, the greatest lessons she’s taken from the semester have been to always be willing to go the extra mile, to never sacrifice her health and wellbeing, as they are essential to be a good worker and to always remain adaptable. Sometimes she takes the subway to a new area just for the sake of exploring, with no agenda. This way of seeing the city has opened up so many new experiences and memories for her.

 

Hongjin (Nicole) Lin

Major: Mathematics 

Hongjin (Nicole) Lin provides some academic diversity to the group, as she  studies mathematics and minors in computer science at Occidental. She is  interning at the UN Development Program (UNDP)  this  fall.  During  the summer, she worked on a database project at the Beijing Representative office of OneSky Foundation, a prominent non-profit foundation aiming to improve the   well being of the most vulnerable children in China's orphanages and villages. A highlight of her work there was the opportunity to establish a partnership with the organization to jumpstart a summer internship program that recruits rising seniors or recent graduates with quantitative mindset to work on data analysis projects in China. Reading the summer biographies introduced her to a new UN hero, Sergio Vieira de Mello.

 

Ieva Marcinkeviciute 

Major: Diplomacy and World Affairs, Economics

Joining the U.K. Permanent Mission, Ieva Marcinkeviciute is a DWA and economics major. She spent the summer in Lithuania conducting independent research project on Baltic genocide for comps and interned with joint technical secretariat of numerous cross-border cooperation programs funded by the EU (all made possible but the John Parke Young grant). She looks up to Jeffrey Sachs, the current director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and former special advisor to the Secretary-General on the MDGs and director of UN Millennium Project.

 

Barani Maung Maung

Major: Diplomacy and World Affairs

Barani Maung Maung joins the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) from the DWA department where she hopes to witness how a huge organization, such as UNFPA, operates in a developed nation, the U.S. This summer, she worked at a financial technology (FinTech) startup focusing on Myanmar’s emerging market. “I surprisingly loved it," Maung Maung said. She calls the World Economic Forum (WEF) Vice-Chair and former Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), Josette Sheeran, a UN role model.

 

 

 

Hanan Mohamed

Major: Diplomacy and World Affairs

Hanan Mohamed majors in DWA and works at the UN  Relief  and  Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) this fall. Her tasks vary greatly day by day, but include conducting research for use in reports or in preparation for bilateral meetings and other events. “I also represent the Agency at various UN and working group meetings and report back to my supervisors and colleagues in Jerusalem/Amman," Mohamed said. Over the summer, she attended a human rights conference in Colombia studying armed conflict, transitional  justice and the Colombian government’s peace deal with the FARC rebel group, an experience she carries into her work in New York. Her favorite part of the job is receiving high-pressure tasks to be completed on a deadline. “I also really love seeing an event or meeting I had a large part in planning go smoothly, and knowing that my proactive actions make the work of my colleagues more manageable." She’s learned to stand up for herself when she feels underutilized or when her tasks seem inefficient. Throughout her internship, she has strengthened    her ability to clearly communicate with her supervisor when she knows something isn't working, offering solutions that have been welcomed. She’s also learned the value of proactively seeking opportunities. She sums up the program in three words: caffeine, meetings, confidence.

 

Gaea Morales

Major: Diplomacy and World Affairs, French

Gaea Morales studies both DWA and French and works this semester at the  United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR). Her grand   summer highlight was interning for United Nations Development Program  (UNDP) Philippine Country Office supported by the John Parke Young Initiative. “Perhaps my most exciting experience," she recalled, “was accompanying a Mission from the Government of Myanmar in their meetings   with Philippine government and civil society representatives to share knowledge on the systematic integration of the Sustainable Development Goals in legislation, planning, advocacy, monitoring and budgeting." In reflecting on the summer readings, Morales said that she appreciated them for their 3-in-1 qualities: as biography, sociopolitical history lesson, and primer on applied philosophy and ethics.

 

Andie Tuemmler

Major: Diplomacy and World Affairs, Economics

Double majoring in DWA and economics, Andie Tuemmler joins three of her peers at the U.K. Permanent Mission this fall, in the political section, spending most of her time on Africa and Women, Peace and Security. She spent the summer in Colombia researching women's rights in the peace process, a topic she remains interested in and committed to. He favorite part of the job at the U.K. mission is how fast-paced and wide-ranging it is. “My typical day involves attending meetings, briefing or negotiations to write up reports for the office. I love that the topics of the meetings vary so widely, because it forces me to stay on my toes and be able to follow a wide range of issues and learn quickly when I'm covering a topic I have little experience with." Her top take-away from the semester so far? No matter how long your supervisor has worked at your office, if they didn't read a Secretary-General’s report and you did, you're the expert on those recommendations. She’s learned not to be afraid to own her knowledge and have confidence in her own analysis and opinions. Like many, she still looks forward to the trip to Costa Rica for the chance to apply what she’s learned to real communities.

 

Kasi Whitaker

Major: Diplomacy and World Affairs

Kasi Whitaker majors in DWA at Occidental and works at the UN Development Program (UNDP) HIV, Health and Development team. Most of her job is conducting research for various team members on topics such as non- communicable diseases (NCDs), planetary health and vaccine coverage and  prices. She’s loved the opportunity to work with many people in a variety of fields within the team, including experts on the sustainable development goals (SDGs), NCDs and law. A major part of the Oxy at the UN program is the Task Force class, in which small teams of students conduct research to be used by a certain UN-related agency. This year, that class will involve a trip to Costa Rica to conduct research and work in the field. Whitaker most looks forward to the rich opportunities that trip will undoubtedly offer. She defines the semester thus far as comprehensive, consequential and structured.

 

Ruoxi Zhang

Major: Diplomacy and World Affairs, Economics

Finally, Ruoxi Zhang, who majors in both economics and DWA, covers third, fourth and sixth committee meetings for the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). This summer, she conducted research on corruption risks in foreign investment at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Speaking of her work in the three committees, she said, “I like that I have learned so much from thematic meetings and from the special rapporteurs." It’s been very interesting to hear member states’ perspectives, being exposed to unfamiliar points of view and seeing the politics at play right in front of her eyes. She has loved exploring different parts of New York — Upper East Side, Upper West Side, the West Village, Brooklyn and Queens — all of which can be easily reached by subway, yet all of which have such a different vibe. “I felt like I am travelling although I am still within the same city," she said. She’s learned how crucial it is to be courageous in talking to people. At first the delegates may seem intimidating, but once she’s gathered courage to talk to them, she has obtained valuable information that she may not have the opportunity to get anywhere else. Because, ultimately, one’s experience is what one makes of it.

 

2015 Students

Danny Tobin

Major: Diplomacy and World Affairs

During the fall in New York, I interned at the Permanent Mission of Costa Rica to the United Nations. Throughout the semester, I primarily attended Second Committee Plenary or G77 meetings on Second Committee Issues as a Costa Rican representative and worked on the thematic area of sustainable development and financing for development. My work included drafting briefings for the Costa Rican Mission, negotiating on textual resolutions, providing secretarial support during the facilitation phase of resolutions, conducting research, translating and editing speeches, and, on one occasion, writing and giving a speech to the Second Committee. 

One highlight of my semester was participating in the High Level Summit on Sustainable Development and assisting the office in organizing and hosting an event on the Multidimensional Poverty Index with Costa Rica's President, Oxford University, the Honduran President and the Prime Minister of Bhutan. In that moment and throughout the semester, I was given an incredible opportunity to explore my academic interests of sustainable development, environmental policy, and mitigation of climate change in a professional environment. I am truly grateful for my time in this program and I am thankful that I was able to intern in such an inspiring and supportive office full of people who believed in their work and who were passionately trying to make a difference each and every day. I highly recommend the UN program to any student who is considering applying.

 

Natasha Anderson

Major: Diplomacy and World Affairs 

Castro Valley, CA

During my internship with The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), my primary responsibility was to attend and report on various intergovernmental and interagency meetings and write briefs on issues of relevance to UNHCR. I regularly followed the General Assembly, most notably the Third Committee focusing on Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural Affairs. For all meetings that I covered, I wrote succinct summaries and analyses. I also covered both the Sustainable Development Summit and the opening of the 70th session of the General Assembly and prepared a detailed, analytic trend analysis, which was distributed to Headquarters for agency management.

One of the highlights of my program experience was serving as co-coordinator for the UNICEF taskforce. At the end of the program we presented our report, “Your Rights, Your World: the Power of Youth in the Age of the Sustainable Development Goals" that highlighted recommendations for how UNICEF, and similar organizations, can support young people's ownership of the Sustainable Development Goals. In addition to providing general support, I led the case study section that focused on the power of refugee youth ran radio programs. It was really rewarding to hear the positive feedback and appreciation from UNICEF.

My internship for the UNHCR and work on the task force deepened my understanding of the complexities of promoting and protecting the livelihood of refugees. This experience motivated me to write my senior comprehensive thesis on refugees and confirmed my desire to pursue career paths in which I can promote human rights.

Shilpa Bhongir

Major: Economics

City Northridge, CA

I interned with the United Nations Foundation, which creates innovative partnerships between civil society, non-profits, and business and UN. As the UN Relations and Policy intern, I was involved with covering news and events, conducting background research, and assisting with event logistics and support.  On a daily basis, I tracked news from UN major agencies and missions, and specifically followed humanitarian, education and budget related issues.  In addition, I took on various research projects related to the sustainable development goals on themes such as effective international agreements, sustainable cities and the role of data in monitoring and tracking progress on the goals. Being at the UN at the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals was truly a unique experience, and set the tone for a fast-paced and dynamic semester. I'm grateful for the opportunity to have had an inside look at work of the UN, and the many lessons I learned along the way. 

Dakota Chisholm

Major: DWA

Chicago, IL

While participating in the program I worked as a delegate at the Permanent Mission of Costa Rica to the United Nations. During my internship I primarily focused on social issues covered by the third committee of the General Assembly and legal issues covered by the sixth committee. Each day I could either be found researching in my office for one of my two supervisors or representing Costa Rica at various meetings within the UN. The work for these committees consisted of taking notes and writing briefs for my supervisors as well as reading past and present resolutions to decide Costa Rica’s national stance on proposed changes. When work was slow I perused the UN’s daily schedule of meetings and attended events that were relevant to the work I was doing for my internship as well as those that peaked my personal interests. The highlight of my semester was the launch of the SDGs and the opening of the General Assembly the following week. I had the privilege of seeing Mahmoud Abbas speak and attending the raising of the Palestinian flag shortly after.

The UN program helped me understand the inner workings of the most important international organization in the world. Whether or not we always agree with its outcomes, there is no contesting its significance. I am thankful that I was able to spend the semester attending meetings that interested me in an environment ripe with innovative as well as controversial ideas. 

Ian Hutchcroft

Major: DWA

Minor: Economics

Canberra, Australia

My semester on the William and Elizabeth Kahane United Nations Program at Occidental College was both grounding and inspiring. As an intern at the UK Mission to the UN, I primarily worked on the Second Committee of the General Assembly, which oversees economic and financial issues.

On Second Committee, I led Mission engagement with two resolutions; represented the UK at plenary sessions, side events, and informal consultations; and prepared summaries for London policy leads. One of the highlights of the semester was being able to participate in the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly Ministerial Week and witness the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). During Ministerial Week, I was also tasked with supporting the organization of an event featuring the UK Prime Minister, the US Secretary of State, and many other high-level dignitaries. During the UK Presidency of the Security Council in November 2015, I had the memorable opportunity to assist with an open debate on peaceful societies and conflict prevention. Working with the UK Mission exposed me to the idealism that informs the work of the United Nations as well as the realpolitik that underpins international politics.

In these endeavors, it was extremely gratifying to have the full confidence of my welcoming, talented, and patient colleagues at the Mission. The research, interpersonal, negotiation, and analytical skills I learned throughout the internship will undoubtedly serve me throughout my life. Foremost was the ability to formulate an opinion, defend personal convictions, and amend personal beliefs in response to new information. The internship also enabled me to learn from experts across the spectrum of practitioners, policymakers and academics. Interacting with these professionals enabled me to think more critically about my senior thesis on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the capacity of international law to mediate interstate disputes.  This program was undoubtedly the capstone experience of my Occidental undergraduate career, and I would highly recommend it to any students interested in international affairs and public policy.

Rhianna Ilube

Major: Politics, Psychology and Sociology

London, England

I interned at UNICEF as part of the Post-2015 Development Team. 2015 was a particularly exciting time to work alongside this team, as they work to ensure children’s voices are included within the Sustainable Development Agenda, which was ratified in September 2015. During the excitement of the Sustainable Development Summit, I covered several events and meetings related to children and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). I wrote up meeting summaries, published blog posts, uploaded photos to UNICEF’s post-2015 Instagram and analyzed the speeches of world leaders. I organized UNICEF’s stall at the “Sweet 17 Children’s Party" for UN youth ambassadors, where I met many inspiring young people from across the globe. New York can be overwhelming, so it was an honour to try and make the youth ambassadors feel comfortable and welcomed. I also went on trips to different New York boroughs to meet with children and parents and talk about the SDGs. Towards the end of my internship, I dedicated more time to my role as coordinator for the UNICEF-Occidental Task Force Report. To produce an in-depth report, we conducted dozens of interviews with youth leaders, education experts, and UN staff. Our report and presentation provided recommendations of ways UNICEF can engage young people about the SDGs through entertainment, education and grassroots activism.

The Oxy-at-the-UN program was one of the most memorable and interesting times of my life so far. I enjoyed gaining a deeper understanding of how a UN agency works - not from my academic textbooks, but through real conversations and experiences with incredible people. The task-force opened many doors through our interviews and taught me a lot of practical lessons about teamwork, public speaking and leadership. Of course, living in New York was a highlight. As an exchange student from Cambridge University, the Occidental students and staff made me feel incredibly welcome. I have made wonderful friends and will not forget my weekends wandering the streets of the city/pretending to exercise.

Jenna Mowat

Major: Politics

Oakland, CA

In New York, I primarily worked on advancing social, cultural, and humanitarian initiatives for the Permanent Mission of the United Kingdom to the United Nations. In this work I served as a UK representative in the General Assembly’s Third Committee. From these meetings I drafted confidential reports for human rights experts and UK diplomats to inform policy decisions. During this internship I had the incredible opportunity to follow resolutions that aligned with my academic interests. I attended negotiations on human rights defenders, human trafficking, rights of a child, and additional human rights related initiatives.

In addition to contributing to my academic pursuits, I also internalized the qualities that I appreciate and value in a work environment. The work culture at the mission fostered a truly stimulating and welcoming environment that inspired me to come into work every morning. Everyone at the mission, from the policy officers, to the finance experts, to the ambassador, was approachable and generously willing to let us learn from their area of expertise. For example, during the month of November the UK served as Security Council President, and during this time I assisted the UK ambassador in bilateral negotiations and Council related matters. I am also an avid photographer and interested in the intersections between images and diplomacy. In sharing this with the press team, they allowed me to take photographs of a high-level Security Council meeting and even photograph a private meeting with the UK government minister and the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. I am incredibly grateful for having had this opportunity to work with such accomplished colleagues, and for learning firsthand about the strengths and weaknesses of the United Nations by working from the inside.

Calli Obern

Major: DWA

Minor: Chinese

Los Angeles, CA

One memorable experience was when I attended a meeting with the Ukrainian foreign minister before a Security Council meeting on Ukraine. The UK ambassador, a policy adviser, and I were the only ones from the UK mission. Before the meeting, our ambassador introduced me to the foreign minister by my first name and called me his colleague. I was filled with gratitude, and felt like my hard work during the semester paid off. The UN taught me that everything comes down to people, not countries or organizations, and there is so much to learn everyone around you. I met incredible people who don’t seek wealth or fame (usually), and dedicate their lives to making the world a better place, as cheesy as that sounds. It inspires me to dedicate my work to do the same. 

Tiffany Odeka

Major: DWA

Minor: German

Manhattan, NY

During my time in New York, I worked as an intern with the Gender, Human Rights, and Culture Branch of the United Nations Population Fund. Throughout the semester I supported the branch in initiatives pertaining to engaging men and boys. I analyzed UNFPA Country Office Annual Reports and supported UNFPA’s contribution to UN Gender SWAP including Gender Marker analysis.

In addition to working at UNFPA, through our Task Force, my colleagues and I worked as consultants for the United Nations Children Fund. Producing a report titled “Your Rights, Your World: the Power of Youth in the Age of the Sustainable Development Goals." The report highlighted recommendations for UNICEF to adopt, in order to promote Sustainable Development Goal learning amongst children and youth. I coordinated the Uganda section of the report, and the process entailed conducting research, interviews, and drafting and editing.

I am beyond grateful for the time I spent in New York. It was an incredible experience to gain exposure to the work initiatives at the GHRCB of UNFPA and to attend thematic Un Meetings. I enjoyed exploring New York City and meeting individuals from around the world, some whom I am lucky to call my friends. 

Christopher Weeks

Major: DWA

Gilmanton IW, NH

I had the pleasure of interning at the Permanent Mission of Rwanda to the United Nations under their Military Advisor and focused on Rwanda’s contributions to United Nations peacekeeping operations. I would regularly attend meetings and summarize the conversations into reports that would then be sent back to Kigali. I would frequently shadow the Military Advisor, a Colonel in the Rwandan Defense Forces as he attended closed meetings to discuss the current state of peacekeeping operations. This year was especially important for peacekeeping operations because Rwanda was co-hosting a summit on peacekeeping where tens of thousands of troops and police were pledged to expand the role of United Nations operations. Furthermore, President Obama and President Kagame spoke at the summit to affirm their commitment to expanding the role of peacekeeping. This internship provided me with valuable insights into an important role of the United Nations but also opened my eyes to many of the shortcomings that exist when it comes to implementing the mandates of peace operations. These operations are often underfunded and understaffed which is frustrating for those who work in New York for the major reason that it is often civilians who are most vulnerable in conflict zones. The pressure on those at the UN was astounding and the commitment I saw from my colleagues at the Rwandan Mission to protecting civilians was admiring. Through this experience I have refined my interests and decided to write my senior comprehensive project on the importance of peacekeeping operations. The United Nations was a phenomenal experience and I hope many more students take advantage of this one of a kind opportunity!

Emily Linebarger

Major: DWA, Economics

Tahlequah, OK

In my semester at the UN, I was working for the United Nations Development Programme in their Strategic Policy Unit. My work was focused around several projects, which included a research paper about inclusive business awards and a presentation on the data revolution in Africa. I was fortunate enough to attend several high-level conferences during my internship, which included a three-day traveling conference where we discussed long-term positioning for UNDP. I was a part of the Oxy task force working with the UN Millennium Campaign on our report “From Answers to Action: Recommendations for the next phase of MY World 2030", and I co-wrote the sections on Montenegro and Mexico with Dakota Chisholm. It was very satisfying to present our report “Next Steps" section and give direct feedback to the UN Millennium Campaign Director as part of our final grade.

Alexandra Goldberg

Major: DWA

Los Angeles, CA

During my time in New York, I worked at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) focusing on the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region. My primary responsibilities included attending Third Committee, Security Council, and other various intergovernmental and interagency meetings related to migration, refugees, displacement, and stateless persons. After each meeting, I wrote briefs that were used to inform UNHCR Headquarters in Geneva. During the General Debate, I wrote a trend analysis of the statements regarding refugees made by world leaders during UNGA week, which was distributed throughout the agency. Additionally, I was given the responsibility of attended and informing a Senior Policy Advisor on informal consultations on the draft resolution “Strengthening of the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance to the United Nations."

In the midst of the world's largest refugee crisis since World War II, refugee issues were one of the top priorities of the United Nations this fall. I had the opportunity to attend many high-level events working to solve the Syrian conflict and the resultant refugee crisis. One highlight was attending a Security Council meeting headed by John Kerry which agreed on a peace plan for Syria. With the adoption of the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals and the 70th Anniversary of the United Nations, this was an extremely unique and exciting year to be at the United Nations. The Oxy-at-the-UN program has been one of the highlights of my time at Occidental, and has clarified my professional interest of working with refugees.

Drake Tien

Major: DWA

Los Angeles, CA

During my time at the United Nations, I was an intern for the United Nations Millennium Campaign (UNMC), an initiative that was formed to get the word out about the Millennium Development Goals to civil society, the private sector, and individuals. I was primarily involved in event planning, social media, and assisting on future strategy involving two of the team’s major projects, Virtual Reality films and the MY World Survey. In addition, I was the coordinator for UNMC task force, which was a report indicating recommendations for future strategy involving the Millennium Campaign’s outreach to state governments, civil society partners, and the private sector.

When not at work, I could often be found looking up new restaurants to eat at on the weekends, cooking in the kitchen, or watching the New York Mets on TV.