Maria Arteaga ’19, 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 Big Idea 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,” Arteaga said. “Up until that point, I had only been a part of student organizations, so 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.
“Leading the Millennium Fellowship was a hands-on experience,” Arteaga said. “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."
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.
“I am really happy that this global education effort is happening at the campus level,” she said. “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 or with financial hardships were unintentionally being left behind,” Arteaga said. “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 time here as a student.”
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 said. “My team’s project ended up becoming 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.
“Even though I just recently graduated, I am already getting nostalgic looking back on all these opportunities I had at UC Davis,” Arteaga said. “However, I am very much looking forward to what the future has in store for me.”