Article courtesy of UC Davis Global Affairs
Maria Arteaga, a managerial economics major and technology management minor, was already an active student leader before she became a member of the Global Education for All Steering Committee—an advisory group composed of students, faculty, and staff that is guiding the development of providing each and every UC Davis student with global learning experiences.
“I was invited to become part of the steering committee because of the different projects I had done on interpersonal communication, breaking down biases and collaborating among people with diverse cultural and educational backgrounds,” she says. “Up until that point I had only been a part of student organizations, so in my mind a steering committee position was something I really wanted to take on.”
In this advisory role, Arteaga was able to collaborate with Nancy Erbstein, associate vice provost of Global Education for All in Global Affairs and associate professor in residence in the School of Education, who in turn recommended Arteaga and 13 other students for the Millennium Fellowship.
This selective undergraduate leadership development program is overseen by UN Academic Impact and Millennium Campus Network and brings together students from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines to build awareness of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) across campuses worldwide. UC Davis was selected as one of 30 campus hosts in 2018-19, with Erbstein serving as a faculty advisor for the 14 UC Davis student fellows.
“Leading the Millennium Fellowship was a really hands-on experience because we got to work with students who shared a long list of extracurriculars that supported the SDGs,” Arteaga says.
“Everybody came to the table with their own experiences, which was really special for me because I was able to see how a diverse group with various educational backgrounds tackles an issue."
From navigating how to develop a framework and bring awareness to the inaugural Campus Global Theme, Food for Thought: Feeding Ourselves, Feeding the Planet, to engaging student organizations with this initiative, being one of multiple voices representing the cohort has served Arteaga well.
“All of our members came from varied ethnic backgrounds,” she says. “We had domestic and international students of African descent, Punjabi Indian descent, Middle Eastern descent, Asian descent, Latin American descent; it was just very diverse."
"I was really lucky to learn from their experiences of growing up in a community where they were the minority—how that has affected them, how they’ve grown and been able to connect more with their own identity.”
This experienced has reaffirmed for Arteaga, who arrived at UC Davis as a transfer student, the importance of providing a global education to all students, regardless of their backgrounds or circumstances.
“I am really happy that this global education effort is happening at the campus level,” she says. “Up until recently I thought I was the only one who cared about UC Davis placing increased emphasis on global learning right here on campus, and not just through study abroad, which is something a lot of students can’t experience.”
As knowledge of global systems, critical thinking abilities, and intercultural communication skills are becoming more in-demand by students and employers alike, more opportunities that meet the diverse academic, professional, and personal needs of students are needed.
“Students with travel restrictions in place, with financial hardships, were in a way being left behind,” she says. “So being part of this initiative, which also focuses on receiving a global education through diverse community experiences on campus and in California, has been the most meaningful to me during my entire time here as a student.”
For Arteaga, student input and lived experience is key to helping bring the Global Education for All initiative to the forefront of students’ attention.
“At the end of the day, we’re the ones who are going to be participating in global education and learning from it and taking advantage of all the opportunities,” she says.
“Being part of the steering committee was meaningful in the sense that I was able to experience a large public institution really care about something that I hadn’t seen other universities care about.”
Given the initiative’s focus on preparing students for a changing world, Arteaga’s contributions are ensuring new opportunities will meet unique student needs.
“Maria has been an incredible leader in launching Global Education for All at UC Davis, particularly drawing attention to the needs of students who are unable to travel due to their immigration status, family obligations or other factors, as well as the importance of recognizing global engagement capacities that many first generation and immigrant students bring to campus,” says Erbstein.
In addition to encouraging students to embrace diversity within their classrooms, workplaces, and communities, Arteaga has been interning in Global Affairs, working on fundraising, development and other efforts related to Global Education for All, which is a UC Davis Big Idea.
“Beyond serving on the steering committee and co-convening the student advisory committee, Maria has supported Global Education for All development activity and represented UC Davis at the 2019 Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) Undergraduate Leaders Program convening,” Erbstein says.
Arteaga’s resume also includes being the co-founder of Project Link, a cross-cultural program that partners UC Davis students with an academic partner from a university abroad. The idea came to Arteaga during her tenure with Net Impact Davis—a campus organization that focuses on social good entrepreneurship—of which she ultimately served as president.
“The Net Impact student leadership was so incredible because they empowered us to come together and make our own projects,” she says. “My team’s project ended up being Project Link, which became a 10-week seminar connecting UC Davis students with students from the UC Education Abroad Program who arrived from different countries to study at UC Davis.”
Throughout the seminars, the group of interdisciplinary students learned about intercultural collaboration and cultural barriers—both topics Arteaga has become increasingly passionate about as an Aggie, in turn sparking her interest in a career leading development and nonprofit organizations.
“With graduation here, I am already getting nostalgic looking back on all these opportunities I had at UC Davis,” she says, “but I am very much looking forward to what the future has in store.”