Hajim Spotlights

Beatriz Gil Gonzalez

Class year: 2019
Major: Political science, economics
Challenge: Restore and Improve Urban Infrastructure
(Click here to see the poster she presented at the Undergraduate Research Expo)

How did you hear about the Grand Challenges Program?

I heard about it through Glenn Cerosaletti, assistant dean of students and director of the Rochester Center for Community Leadership.

Why did you decide to apply for the Grand Challenges program?

I think that it is very important to be able to do interdisciplinary projects and to reflect on them. I liked how the Grand Challenges program allowed me to see how everything I have worked on throughout my 4 years merged together. I also really enjoy how you are able to see the relationship between carrying out research, doing service, and doing so at a global level. I strongly believe it better prepares us for the future in a global world. 

Which of the five “competencies” (research, interdisciplinary, entrepreneurship/innovation, global, service) did you most enjoy completing? Why?

The global category is one that I enjoyed completing. As an international student from Spain in the US, I really value all the global experiences that I get and as a student minoring in Chinese, I went abroad to China for 3 months. In addition, due to my interest in politics at a global level I went to the UN conference on climate change in Bangkok, Thailand last summer. This experience allowed me to learn about the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Do you think you will want to continue work in the field of your “challenge” after graduation? How?

The field of my challenge is security: restore and improve urban structure. The work I have done through these 4 years is only the start and I hope to continue working in the field after graduation. I learnt a lot through the service as well as through my research and as someone who hopes to go into politics in the future, I look forward to further preparing myself to have an impact in how the system currently works. 

How did being at the University of Rochester help you to complete this program?

Being at the UR has been crucial for completing this program. The fact that we have an open curriculum gives you space to be able to have an interdisciplinary academic curriculum, which has been essential to my education, double majoring in economics and political science, as well as double minoring in Chinese and international relations. Moreover, the opportunity of attending the UN conference in Thailand was also provided by the UR so I am very grateful for all the help I have received to not only complete this program but actually have an impact in the community I live in.

For you, what is the value of the Grand Challenges program?

For me the value is that it allows us to see how different priorities that you might have can all be put together to achieve a greater goal. I think it prepares us for when we graduate and enables us to see that you can actually have an impact in the world. And it reminds us of how important it is to work interdisciplinarily and globally to achieve it.