In the summer of 2019, Elena Tothazan (AB ’19) received the internship opportunity of a lifetime – one she never imagined possible. Originally from Romania, Elena immigrated to the United States in 2010 with her family. “My mother’s relatives came to the US both during the communist regime and after the revolution in 1989,” she reflected. “It took 10 years for our papers to be processed, but we were eventually able to follow our family to the US to pursue the American Dream.” As a young child, Elena learned English by watching Dora the Explorer and other American cartoons on VHS tape, which one might say was her first foray into the study of global affairs.
As a student at the University of Georgia, Elena majored in International Affairs, additionally earning a minor in French and a certificate in Global Studies. Towards the end of her senior year, Elena began the search for an internship that would open doors for her in the realms of human rights studies, international policy, or immigration law. She was offered a position with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) – Human Rights Initiative Department, which is located in Washington, DC. “Without the help of the Experiential Learning Internship Program, I would not have been able to intern in DC,” she explained. “Opportunities like these are amazing because you can afford to live while growing both personally and professionally.”