A Day in the Life of Gabriela Avila: Poli Sci Major on the Fast-Track MPA

Posted by Sophomore and Intern at Binghamton's Media and PR Office Patricia Nieberg on March 11, 2016

She’s young, but mature. Busy, but organized. Worldly, but down-to-earth.

The fresh and exciting life of Gabriela Avila is far from static. Every day is something new for her; every adventure is different from the last. Between reminiscing about her study abroad experience in Hong Kong, to teaching Spanish to electricians, to planning her internship in Argentina, she is not only a combination of other countries, but a transnational student who learns and grows with each experience. Feel inspired, and maybe even a little intimidated, as you learn more about Gabriela and where she’s going next.

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Hometown: Queens, N.Y.

Home at Binghamton: Off campus (Chestnut Street, Binghamton)

Major: Political Science/Global Studies Minor/5-year track MPA program

Year: Senior

Fun facts about Gabby:

  • Native Spanish speaker
  • Studied abroad in Hong Kong
  • Understands Italian and French
  • Has traveled to eight countries (Thailand was her favorite)
  • Favorite study spot is the University Downtown Center library
  • Was a TA for Italian
  • Wants to work in cultural affairs and policy
  • Worked for John Hopkins (RA)

Clubs/orgs involvement:

  • Has worked in the Office of International programs (OIP)
  • Academic advisor in Harpur
  • Ambassador for Dickinson Town Council
  • Club gymnastics

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What’s your busiest day like?

“My busiest day is probably on Thursday.”

9 a.m. - Meeting for Harpur Advising

10 a.m.-noon - Work at OIP

1:40-4:40 p.m. - Research Methods class

5:50-8:50 p.m. - Human Resource Management class

8:50 p.m. until sleep - “Pretty much just study because then I have more stuff to do for Friday.”

Like what?

“I actually just started another job on Monday. I’m a Spanish instructor for NYSEG, the electricity company. I have to do a lesson plan by Friday and have it done for Saturday so I can show it to my coordinator.”

What do you have to do exactly?

“They have partners in Spain, so they are pretty much interacting with them all the time. And they said communication is one of the big problems with them, so they  just need someone to brush up on their basic Spanish skills, so I give them lessons.”

When you have time off, what do you like to do?

“I really like to work out. I like to read. I like to brush up on my languages, just reviewing here and there. Oh, I’m a big online shopper.” 

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What’s an important lesson you’ve learned here at Binghamton?

“I would say, don’t spread yourself out too thin. I like to do a lot of things; I like to be busy. I don’t like to be home. I think sometimes it’s good to take a step back and fully enjoy what you’re doing. And take your time with things, because that’s a big one. Eventually, when you do go off to your job at your new home or whatnot, you want to make sure that you’re giving it 100 percent and not just trying to do all these different tasks and not just being able to complete one.” 

What made you pick the MPA program?

“Oftentimes, when I like to talk about what I wanted to do with political science, people would say, "Are you going to be a lawyer? Are you going to law school?" But I feel like that area wasn’t really what I was interested in. I wanted to do more of the administrative part of it, and work in an embassy and stuff. Once I started looking into the public administration program -- what it offered, how it had human resource classes and just management in general -- that’s when it caught my attention.”

What’s a great class or professor you’ve had here at Binghamton?

“Right now, I’m taking a class with Susan Appe. It’s Foundations in Public Service. I’ve only been with her for a couple weeks, but it’s such a great class. It really gives [me] the foundation of everything that I have wanted to learn about -- organization, how the government works. And the way the class is structured I think is super helpful. She makes you review little things that some professors assume that you know. She’ll ask questions and try to engage everyone. She does group exercises. I feel like when I’m in her class, time flies.”

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What’s something about you that someone wouldn’t expect from meeting you for the first time?

“I’ve traveled to Bolivia, Hong Kong, Beijing, Thailand, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador and Colombia."

What is one specific goal or dream you have for after you graduate?

“I definitely want to work in foreign service. I have been looking into this field, for a very long time. It’s very competitive. I’ve already started trying to prepare for it --  I have an internship lined up this summer to work in Argentina at the U.S. embassy. Affter that, I’m going to start looking into smaller government position jobs and then, hopefully, taking the [foreign service] test maybe in two years and going to the management section.”

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After sitting down with Gabby, one thing is certain: she knows where she wants to go, and she knows what to do to get it, even if that means juggling a lot at once. When friends ask her how she does it all, she responds with, “It’s a balance. There are some days where I don’t sleep that well, but I get my stuff done. It’s just about keeping up with what you’re doing.”

Interested in the College of Community and Public Affairs (CCPA)? Check out our video! 

Patricia Nieberg is a sophomore from Brooklyn, N.Y., majoring in English rhetoric with a minor in Spanish. in Binghamton University's Office of Media and Public Relations. She is a member of the Binghamton University Dance Team, Wishmakers on Campus, and Binghamton Sound Stage and Lighting (BSSL). She's looking to pursue a career in comunications and PR. 

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