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A University of Louisiana at Lafayette student is learning about global diplomacy firsthand as an intern for the United Nations.

Zayira Quiroz is a senior political science major. Through Aug. 7, she’ll be working for the U.N. as a global youth specialist with Humanitarian Affairs Asia. The organization empowers youth to transform communities by building leadership skills, learning about humanitarian efforts and immersing themselves in new cultures.

Quiroz and nine other U.N. interns are in Thailand recruiting students from different regions of the world to attend U.N. events. She is reaching out to universities specifically in the U.S. and in South and Central America to create a database of interested students.

“I’m trying to empower young people who are passionate about social changes,” Quiroz said. “When I went to the conference last year, I realized there are so many different ways I could be useful and help other people.”

While she reaches out to students all over the world, Quiroz will be travelling it herself. Her schedule as an intern with the U.N. includes attending the Peace Summit of Emerging Leaders and teaching English at public schools in Bangkok, Thailand, and hosting the 11th  University Leadership Symposium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

As an international student and former president of the International Student Council at UL Lafayette, Quiroz is dedicated to having a global perspective and learning about other cultures. The Manabi, Ecuador, native said she always dreamt of working for the U.N.

“Helping people is my ultimate goal and working with the U.N. is the way to do that,” she said.

Her road to the U.N. began with a conversation with Dr. Gabriel Carranza, executive director of UL Lafayette’s Division of Global Engagement. She told him about her aspirations, so when Carranza received an email about a U.N. conference, he knew Quiroz was the student to forward it to.

With his help, Quiroz applied to attend the 10th University Leadership Symposium, a one-week program that teaches emerging student leaders how to achieve their humanitarian goals. There, she also learned about the internship with Humanitarian Affairs Asia.

“Being who Zayira is, so active and resourceful, she had the time of her life working with people all over the world,” he said.

Carranza and Dr. Rose Honegger, the Division of Global Engagement’s assistant director, provided interview tips for the internship so she’d stand out from other applicants.

Carranza added that experiences like the internship are important for students. Gaining a global perspective by taking semesters abroad, attending international conferences and speaking with researchers all over the world is essential as they enter an increasingly globalized workforce.

“I’m sure Zayira is going to go back and work for the United Nations in the future. Knowing that the University made it possible for her — that is the best thing we can do for one of the best ambassadors we have,” Carranza said.

Quiroz will graduate from UL Lafayette in December. She hopes to pursue a master’s degree in nonprofit education and to one day establish an orphanage in South America.

“I knew I wanted to be part of something bigger than myself. I chose to do this internship because I know when it’s over, I’ll possess the confidence, cultural intelligence and resiliency to work anywhere in the world,” she said.

Bailey Chenevert is student editor of La Louisiane, the magazine of University of Louisiana at Lafayette.


Photo Caption: One of Zayira Quiroz’s responsibilities as an intern for the United Nations is to teach children English at public schools in Bangkok, Thailand. (Photo courtesy of Zayira Quiroz)