Expanding International Horizons

Kelsey IFAL_final graphi_nobox

By Caitlin Powers

Kelsey Hirsch, senior agricultural leadership and development major, expands her international horizons by joining the Academy of Future International Leaders. The year-long high impact program provides outstanding undergraduates with potential leadership skills an in-depth learning experience in global issues.

“I thought this would be a good opportunity to get a broader overview of what it is to be an international leader,” Hirsch said.

According to their website, the academy seeks to prepare students for leadership roles in the increasingly international 21st century while gaining a greater global perspective. The academy is coordinated through the Study Abroad Programs Office and a joint effort among the nine academic colleges.

“It definitely has opened my eyes to different situations,” Hirsch said. “It is easy to focus on Texas A&M, my life, my schoolwork, my family and my home. The academy makes you think about other situations that you normally wouldn’t think about.”

The academy provides students with opportunities to take part in professional development with an international focus, such as seminars, and have the chance to implement an internationally focused project of their own.

The 24 members are paired up into teams to design and implement a project with an international focus. Hirsch said her team wants to work with the Gates Foundation on their Global Library Project. They plan to coordinate a book drive on campus or partner with a library to do a read-a-thon to collect books to personally take to a library abroad.

“Everyone will not necessarily be able to read them but those that can, can share that knowledge,” Hirsch said.

Another component, of the academy is students are paired with a Texas A&M International Advisory Board member as a mentor. Hirsch said the mentors are there to provide support, information and contacts for projects and possibly future careers.

“I want to work with international development of some sort,” Hirsch said. “The cool thing about the academy is that I am learning about so many different opportunities for development as a career.”

The academy is expanding Hirsch’s international horizons by introducing her to educational development and leadership development. Hirsch said after each seminar she goes to she has a new idea of a career she wants to pursue.

“After meeting with the ambassador of South Africa I think it would be neat to do something developmental wise with agricultural education in South Africa,” Hirsch said.

The academy is giving Hirsch ideas that shape her future but hold true to her one true passion.

“I am very passionate about spreading knowledge,” Hirsch said. “Knowledge is power and I want to be able to give that power to the oppressed.”

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