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Jessica Pena: A Capital Future

January 13, 2009

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Recent UAlbany graduate Jessica Pena

December 2008 graduate Jessica Pena served as an intern with the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. (Photo Mark Schmidt)   

Jessica Pena, a December 2008 UAlbany graduate, has a leg up on the job market. The political science major has already worked for the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, thanks to an internship opportunity she obtained through UAlbany.

Pena, 22, has her eye on a career in the United States Foreign Service. Her dream job is to be an ambassador.

"I would like to pursue a career involving international affairs, particularly development and governance in Latin America and the Caribbean," said Pena, who was the Nelson A. Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy valedictorian. Pena was born in Nyack, N.Y. When she was 10, she moved along with her family to the Dominican Republic, where she attended middle school and high school.

Through mentoring from her UAlbany professors and networking with alumni, Pena has seen doors open to her career goals.

"Jessica demonstrates that a UAlbany student can take advantage of so many of the on-campus and off-campus educational opportunities, including internships at the Center for International Development (CID), the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the Organization of American States (OAS)," said Jeffrey D. Straussman, dean of Rockefeller College. "These opportunities have given Jessica a well-rounded education with the knowledge and skills that position her well both for professional employment and further higher education, especially in the areas of international affairs and public policy."

A transfer student, Pena first interned at CID, and then joined the Washington Semester Program. There she met Professor Michael Malbin, who helped her land a rare internship in the office of UAlbany alumnus Carl Meacham, senior staff to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Meacham, in turn, helped her get her foot in the door to a summer 2008 internship at the OAS. A grant from the Rockefeller College Alumni Association helped her to cover living costs for the summer.

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