Being a member of the Conference on World Affairs (CWA) Student Volunteer Committee comes with many perks: the chance to invite speakers from anywhere in the world to campus, the ability to design conference panels and the opportunity to participate in the CWA Speaker Ambassador program.
CWA speaker ambassadors are paired with a CWA speaker to serve as their campus connection for the week of the conference; they have lunch with their assigned speaker, show them around campus, and often gain valuable advice and career connections. With 100 speakers from around the world attending CWA week each year, there are plenty of opportunities for students to participate in the program.
"We match students with CWA speakers based on the student's interests and the speaker's area of expertise or background," explains Nick Sodnicar, CWA student ambassador coordinator. "The primary focus of the program is to provide students with opportunities to build connections while giving the speakers a positive and personal experience."
Some of the CWA speaker ambassadors shared their experiences:
Rashel Gandhi (Anthropology), ambassador for David Grinspoon, Senior Scientist, Planetary Science Institute:
"It's intimidating to meet someone so important in your field because you want to make a good first impression, but as soon as I did, I felt very comfortable. It was so great to meet him and we kept in touch via email over the summer. He connected me with two space anthropologists, and even checked in with me to make sure I was watching the eclipse!"
Rashel was also interested in the work of CWA speaker William Ryerson, President of the Population Media Center, and introduced herself during the conference. She and Ryerson stayed in touch after the CWA, and Rashel was offered and accepted a summer internship in Montreal with Ryerson's organization doing cultural research on population demographics for other countries with a focus on Africa.
Olwyn Doyle (Political Science), ambassador for Marshall Steinbaum, Senior Economist and Fellow, Roosevelt Institute:
"The speaker ambassador program is a really great way to get to know someone who is an expert in your field and build a personal relationship with them. The speakers are all very supportive and appreciative of the ambassador program, so they are absolutely approachable. Marshall and I went to get coffee one day and we talked about everything from world politics, to the student government at Boulder, to how people approach Econ as a field. It was really relaxed, and it was awesome to talk with someone with a different perspective on all of these things."
Kristina Schoonover, (International Affairs) ambassador for Mark Fallon, International Security Consultant:
"I had an amazing experience as Mark's ambassador, I was able to learn a lot from him and take away some pretty amazing advice. Mark works in the intelligence and counterterrorism community, which is where I'm pursuing my career. Throughout the week I was able to share my thoughts on current issues as well as hear his, and the coolest part is that this experience has continued as a mentorship. I was able to attend another one of his talks in July in Crested Butte and see him again, in addition to staying in touch via text and email since CWA in April."