Story by Kelly Hendricks
One attribute that makes Drake University so progressive in churning out global citizens in a program that is seldom talked about: the certificate Global Ambassador Program.
David Skidmore, director of the Principal Financial Group Center for Global Citizenship and head of the program, said it was created in 2002 with the purpose of providing a way for students from any major to gain global competencies.
“There are specialized programs at Drake for students who want to pursue careers in international fields, to be able to develop the knowledge and skills that will allow them to be able to function living outside the United States,” Skidmore said.
Some of the requirements to qualify for a certificate as a Global Ambassador include completing 50 hours of service learning, studying abroad, taking two semesters of a language, attending Center for Global Citizenship-sponsored events and taking the intercultural communications course and capstone.
“The idea is to expose them to practitioners who are trying to build international understanding,” Skidmore said.
Although the requirements seem rigorous, the results are worth it to the students.
Taylor Harris, a senior international relations and law, politics and society double major, started the program her sophomore year. Her favorite part of the program is getting to converse one-on-one with guest speakers who come to campus from other countries.
“Getting to talk to the people rather than just listening is a good opportunity,” Harris said. “It’s also nice to be able to meet people interested in similar things.”
The program, is fairly small, but has graduated 41 students since its creation, Skidmore said.
“Last spring we had six graduates and two this past December,” Skidmore said. “Once you have certified that you have fulfilled the requirements, you receive a certificate and a notation on your transcript.”
Being a part of the Global Ambassador program can also be rewarding for those looking for jobs post-graduation.
“I enjoy learning about the world and being able to apply it so when I look for jobs I’ll be able to use the information I learned throughout the program,” Harris said.
Harris and fellow global ambassador Lindsay Peters, another senior international relations major, are working on their senior project for the program which involves planning a conference for undergraduate students to share research they’ve done that is related to international issues.
Peters joined the program because she wanted to remain involved with international issues and global opportunities once she had returned to Drake from studying abroad.
“The Global Ambassador program enabled me to join a group of students with international interests who were equally passionate about global affairs,” Peters said. “I feel this program has enhanced my international relations major by encouraging me to independently explore international issues as well as how to go about getting involved with those particular issues.”