JFEW/SUNY Scholar Spotlight
Student Accepted into German-American Youth Ambassador Program
A Jewish Foundation for Education of Women/SUNY International Relations and Global Affairs Scholars program graduate at Binghamton University is about to embark on a year abroad as a youth ambassador in Germany.
"I want to show people that in America you can be an immigrant like myself and still make it this far and find so much opportunity and success," said Priya Pandey, a senior majoring in political science. "But also recognize that there's a lot of work to be done in America and recognize that you are going to have to play a role in fixing that."
Through the support of the Jewish Foundation for Education of Women, the Fleishman Center for Career and Professional Development is able to provide a two-year experiential learning program for select undergraduate women with a strong interest in international affairs. The program includes scholarship support, monthly seminars, a summer internship in NYC in an international relations focused organization, funded by a stipend, and more.
Navigating paths of interest across multiple fields and disciplines, Priya Pandey is a first-generation college student who brings her sparkling enthusiasm to each passion project she pursues.
"Within political science, I've always been interested in international relations but it was just a question of finding what specifically I really liked. After bouncing around with comparative politics, healthcare stuff, American politics, I realized I really like human rights work," Pandey said. "I want an internationally focused career that has something to do with human rights and the law. So, that's how I stumbled upon CBYX."
The Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Program (CBYX) is a year-long exchange program where 75 students from the United States and 75 students from Germany become young ambassadors in each other's countries. The mission of this prestigious, over 30-year-old program is to promote public diplomacy between Americans and Germans.
Pandey and all other other youth ambassadors will spend two months of the year in intensive language school, four months auditing classes at a university and working on a community service project, and five months in an internship in the field of their interest.
"I think that's what makes the program unique," Pandey said. "It's not just for people interested in political science and international relations. There are people in [CBYX] who are in psychology, chemistry, the culinary arts, hospitality and tourism. They're all going to be doing those internships in their respective fields, and the fact that they're there as Americans, that's the cultural and public diplomacy part of it."
Pandey chose to enter the CBYX program to gain international work experience before her eventual goal of attending law school. Part of her past experience includes the internship she held, sponsored by JFEW, at the Clinton Global Initiative, a program of the Clinton Foundation.
"One of the things [Bill Clinton] emphasized, and one of the things I've learned from JFEW, is that there's no such thing as a linear career path. Careers aren't like ladders, they're more like a jungle gym," Pandey said, drawing on the simile from Sheryl Sandberg's book Lean In. "You're never going upwards, you're always bouncing around in a different direction. You should try to soak up whatever comes your way."
This was career advice from her mentors that, Pandey said, made her more comfortable with the idea of picking up and moving abroad for a year.
"Priya has been a star JFEW/SUNY scholar since day one," said Ali Cain, former international career consultant at the Fleishman Center. "I think Priya's participation in the [JFEW/SUNY International Relations and Global Affairs Program] has given her the confidence to take her interests in international law and diplomacy to the next level by living abroad for the year. Through our rigorous summer program, scholars learn how to network with high-profile leaders, pose thoughtful questions, and build important relationships. Having the ability to do so has helped give Priya the confidence as a global female leader who looks to expand her knowledge abroad."
Pandey has spent her two years as a JFEW/SUNY scholar building a foundation for growth, both for her and the people around her.
"One thing I'm going to miss about JFEW/SUNY is having that group of people I'm always with, meeting them for seminars, having that sense of community, having that support system, having each other's backs." Pandey said. "Especially as a first-generation college student, knowing that there are other people on campus that have similar experiences as you, that was really meaningful."
As she embarks on her international journey, Pandey said she is grateful to have had the support of not only her fellow JFEW/SUNY scholars, but of the Fleishman Center staff as well.
"I was really glad I had this little village of people cheering for me," she said.