Berkeley Today

Berkeley College Students Gain Global Perspective Through Work at United Nations

When Michelle Defaz emigrated with her family to Ecuador at the age of 10, she immersed herself in the culture of her new country and discovered a passion for international affairs. After she returned to the United States, Berkeley College helped her channel this interest into an internship at the United Nations (UN) that became a full-time job.

Ms. Defaz began working as an intern for Global Action on Aging, a nonprofit, non-governmental organization (NGO) based at the UN, in April 2010. When she graduated with honors from Berkeley with a Bachelor’s of Business Administration degree in International Business later that year, the Manhattan resident was offered a permanent position with the NGO.

Ms. Defaz is among the nearly 20 Berkeley College students who have been placed in an internship or a full-time job with the UN or one of its NGO affiliates since 2008.

"Berkeley College has given me a degree I am proud of and helped me begin my career," said Ms. Defaz.

"So many people at Berkeley have helped shape the person I am today and prepared me for my work in a realistic way."

One faculty member who was instrumental in educating Ms. Defaz about a career in global affairs was Rahul Bedi, PhD, Associate Chair, Management, Larry L. Luing School of Business. Dr. Bedi has worked as a UN consultant and representative for India at meetings of the UN Conference on Trade and Development. He is Founder of the Berkeley College Model United Nations (Model UN) program, which educates students about international events and exposes them to the discourse of contemporary global issues.

"I strongly believe and support the mission of the United Nations," said Dr. Bedi. "Berkeley College students are very excited about the Model UN program, and are dedicated in their preparation for debates and events."

Stefanie Willches, a Berkeley College student from Ecuador, served as Head Delegate for the Model UN program. The program inspired her to apply for an internship at the UN, where she currently serves as Assistant to the Deputy Ambassador of her home country.

During her internship, Ms. Willches attended meetings of the General Assembly, Security Council, and Economic and Social Council. She also was involved with UN Women, an organization dedicated to the empowerment of women, where she had the opportunity to converse with international diplomats.

"I have had an opportunity to meet people from all over the world and discuss different points of view on issues that relate to all of us," said Ms. Willches, who is on track to graduate with a Bachelor’s of Business Administration degree in International Business in the Summer 2011 Quarter. "This internship has helped me build a great resume and feel part of the global community."