Global Affairs · Global Education · Model United Nations · Programs · Uncategorized

Global Student Leadership Award

The World Affairs Council of Connecticut is in its second year of giving out Global Student Leadership Awards to high school graduates. These students have demonstrated high interest in global affairs and have gone above and beyond to get involved in global affairs.

Kanika Malani

Kanika Malani

Kanika’s interest in global affairs began when she was traveling to different countries around the world in the summers and learned about different cultures and customs. She has traveled to India, France, Britain, Thailand, Denmark, and Spain. Her travels inspired her to get more involved with global health, which prompted her to initiate a non-profit organization that focused on combating water scarcity and its related diseases in third-world countries.

Her interest in the Model United Nations program grew from wanting to meet, discuss, and communicate with people beyond her local community to her wanting to work with the WHO committee to solve global health issues.

Kanika plans to go to college as a Molecular and Cell Biology major with a Spanish minor. In the more distant future she plans to go to medical school to become a physician and researcher working for Doctors Without Borders. Her advice to high school students is to travel as much as possible, not just for tourist reasons but to work with global communities as well. She urges them to take language courses so they are able to interact with a greater portion of the world.


Samantha Jeannotte

Samantha’s interest in global affairs came about from her realizing her privilege of having to grow up in an opportunistic country like the United States. Her mother and her mother’s family escaped a civil war in their home country of Lebanon in 1977 and came to New London, Connecticut. Learning from her family’s struggles Samantha feels more globally aware and empathetic. She is inspired to be more globally involved and help the less fortunate.

Samantha has been the moderator for the Humanitarian Committee at the University of Hartford’s World Affairs Council Model UN Conference. Meeting Senator Chris Murphy there sparked an interest for her to apply for an internship at his office this upcoming fall. She plans to attend University of Connecticut this year. She has an interest in pursuing a career in Human Rights Law, both domestically and internationally. She aspires to attend Harvard Law School and work for a nonprofit law firm where she’ll be able to fight for basic rights of human beings regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, etc.

Her advice to high school students is for them to be aware of the world around them. She says, “Of course there are terrible tragedies occurring every day, but refuse to neglect the beauty and goodness that radiates in average people.”

Marina Matsudaira

Marina Matsudaira

Marina was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan and moved to the U.S. when she was seven. Growing up she faced cultural barriers and as a result developed a passion for bridging gaps between cross-cultural worlds. Service trips such as the one she took to the Dominican Republic last year where she set up a medical clinic for a poverty-stricken village helped spark this interest in global affairs for her.

She is currently undecided but would love to concentrate in engineering while also studying different languages. If she goes down the engineering route, she would like to use her skills to travel to countries and help spread sustainable and energy-efficient methods.

Marina’s advice to students would be to visit a different country, especially a non-English speaking country, whenever possible. She says, “Physically being in a completely different place with a different culture changes your mind about everything and will definitely help inspire your future plans.”


Brendan Finnegan

Brendan was initially very interested in United States politics for years and realized that he could not fully understand the workings of the U.S. government unless he learned more about the functions of foreign governments. Learning that global affairs was not just about geopolitics and diplomacy, but also about economic and humanitarian policy is what made him stay really interested in global affairs.

This upcoming fall Brendan will be attending the business school at Seton Hall University. He will also be able to continue to learn about global affairs at Seton Hall because of its award winning School of Diplomacy and International Relations. His goal is to find a job in either financial or monetary policy that will expose him to an international perspective on economics.

Brendan advises high school students to get involved in clubs like Model UN that deal with global affairs. He says Model UN exposes you to diplomats whom one could not meet without this program. He also recommends students to read as much as they can about world issues. He says, “Reading articles and journals about different parts of the world lets students get a feel for the culture of a country without having to travel halfway around the world.”

Kate Sabo

Kate Sabo

Kate feels language was her gateway into global affairs, but her motivations to get involved were solidified when she took her first trip out of the country to go visit China.

She has chosen to attend the University of Connecticut to study political science and minor in international studies. Her primary goal is to connect with people of different backgrounds and walks of life. She also wishes to travel and continue to familiarize herself with other languages and cultures. Most importantly, she hopes that whatever she decides to do, it involves helping others and bringing bout a positive social change.

Kate’s advice for other high school students is for them to seek out and make connections. She says, “Networking is a vital skill in the professional field of global affairs, and it is no less important for students.”

Christopher Morales

Various factors influenced Christopher to get involved in global affairs. He also credits being influenced by the diverse places he has lived in and traveled to while growing up. He found it interesting to see how different cultures and ethnicities around the world relate to each other.

Christopher plans to study communications which will range between broadcasting, journalism, and media studies. He also wants to pursue business and cultural studies. He is passionate about various world issues. To state one specifically, he is passionate about resolving the Immigration and the Refugee Crisis.

His advice for high school students interested in global affairs, is to have them converse to people around them and learn about those people’s lives, because this information helps create the student’s personal story. He says, “Stories are special because they build the compassion we need to understand why the world is the way it is, but most importantly how we can make it better.”

Congratulations to all these wonderful students on receiving the Global Student Leadership Award. We are very proud of your efforts and hope that you will continue them. We wish you the best of luck for the future. 





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