We sat down with Laura Rodríguez Amaya, Ph.D., the new assistant director for Experiential Learning to learn about her life and her passion for helping students find the perfect internship.
In your career, you have studied international relations and geography. Tell us about these passions and how they have enhanced your work in education.
Since I can remember, I have always been very curious about different cultures and ways of life. Learning about and engaging with different ways of being and perspectives have expanded my view and understanding of the world around me. Through my formal education, professional training, and life experiences, I have developed an appreciation for the place of international education in the undergraduate experience. In my professional work, I am passionate about providing opportunities for students to increase their international exposure. I have led study-abroad groups, invited students to do research abroad with me, and now I look forward to bringing this perspective into my work at Trinity.
Why do you feel that internships and community service are an important part of an undergraduate education?
Preparing students to be successful in our interconnected world requires them to engage in purposeful learning experiences beyond the classroom at the local, national, and global levels. These experiences also have a very tangible impact on students’ career readiness. For instance, students that participate in pipeline internships are more likely to transition to a full-time job after graduation than students who do not participate in such internships. Students also develop important transferable skills through these experiences that are highly valued by employers. These skills and competencies include the ability to work with diverse groups of people, effective communication, and critical thinking.
How do you hope to impact experiential learning at Trinity?
As a higher education professional, my goal is to create innovative initiatives that enhance students’ learning experiences and promote equity in education. I follow an evidence-based decision making process which means that I look at research, best practices, and data to design high impact programs. Currently, I am looking at institutional data on internship participation rates of different student groups to identify participation gaps. The goal is to promote inclusive excellence in our internship programs at Trinity so that all students are able to take advantage of opportunities to learn outside the classroom.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be (excluding San Antonio, of course)?
It is hard for me to choose just one place, like I said before, I love to explore different cultures and places. If I had to choose, I would like to spend some time with the Mosuo people in China. They live close to the Luga Lake and are considered one of the last matriarchal societies. Their social structure is very different from most places because they follow a maternal bloodline and it favors female agency. I find this very intriguing and believe it would be quite an experience to immerse oneself in their culture.