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Student cultivates relationships, foreign service passion on international co-op

A photo of Rose Leopold in the

Ear­lier this year, Rose Leopold, SSH’16, helped to cul­ti­vate the rela­tion­ship between the U.S. and Ecuador while working on co-​​op at the U.S. Embassy in the Latin Amer­ican country’s cap­ital city of Quito.

A major focus of U.S. Embassies is to strengthen relationships—both polit­i­cally and culturally—between the U.S. and the country where the embassy is located.

Ear­lier this year, Rose Leopold, SSH’16, helped to cul­ti­vate those rela­tion­ships between the U.S. and Ecuador while working on co-​​op at the U.S. Embassy in the Latin Amer­ican country’s cap­ital city of Quito.

I really got an incred­ible hands-​​on expe­ri­ence, and it showed me that this is exactly what I want to do with my life,” said Leopold, a fourth-​​year polit­ical sci­ence major. “It’s so inter­esting to observe the cul­ture and see how it’s dif­ferent, and then being in an embassy and seeing that it is really some­thing they want to promote.”

In her role as a polit­ical intern, Leopold met with local politi­cians and non-​​governmental orga­ni­za­tions to learn what assis­tance the Embassy could pro­vide. She also per­formed out­reach for the Embassy, giving pre­sen­ta­tions to Ecuado­rian stu­dents on Amer­ican topics such as Women’s His­tory Month.


Leopold got the oppor­tu­nity to meet Pres­i­dent Aoun when he gave a speech on the future of higher edu­ca­tion at Uni­ver­sidad San Fran­cisco de Quito. Cour­tesy photo Leopold got the oppor­tu­nity to meet Pres­i­dent Aoun when he gave a speech on the future of higher edu­ca­tion at Uni­ver­sidad San Fran­cisco de Quito. Cour­tesy photo

She fur­ther­more helped Ecuado­rian non­profit orga­ni­za­tions secure inter­na­tional and alter­na­tive methods of funding. One woman with whom Leopold worked closely had started a cul­tural center that not only helped women grow their busi­nesses, but also pro­moted the cul­ture of Afro-​​Ecuadorians, who are dis­crim­i­nated against in the country.

When the Embassy learned that the woman was attending the Summit of the Amer­icas this past April, they nom­i­nated her for a chance to meet Pres­i­dent Obama and she was selected.

It was so amazing to hear how grateful she was for that expe­ri­ence and how it impacted her,” Leopold said. “Mean­while in her own country she and other Afro-​​Ecuadorians don’t get rights or equality from their own government.”

On the polit­ical side, Leopold was tasked with mon­i­toring Ecuado­rian Pres­i­dent Rafael Correa’s crack­down on free speech, who pub­licly iden­ti­fied people who crit­i­cized him on social media. She was tasked with mon­i­toring the sit­u­a­tion and reporting her find­ings to the U.S. State Department.

It was really inter­esting to be able to truly research an issue in-​​depth and deter­mine how the U.S. might feel about it,” Leopold noted.

-By Joe O’Connell

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