Alumna’s high school travel leads to career direction

She always thought she would teach elementary school.

But on a trip to the Republic of Uzbekistan when she was in high school, a light bulb turned on for Emily Pierce.

The Fort Lupton, Colo., native — who recently graduated from DU with a bachelor’s degree in international studies and minors in political science, leadership and French — realized that she was destined for a career in the political and international arena.

That decision led her to DU, where she became involved in the Pioneer Leadership Program and had her first experience with community organizing.

Along with three other student loaders, she organized a 9News Health Fair location at the Ritchie Center. In its first year, the DU fair attracted 120 volunteers and served more than 700 people.

“That was my first window into politics and policy,” Pierce says. “It was my first experience seeing how a nonprofit organization can really impact the community by taking care of issues on the front-end. It’s a cause I really believe in.”

After returning from studying in France in 2007, Pierce started a DU chapter of the Roosevelt Institute, a nonprofit, non-partisan national network of campus-based student think tanks that conduct policy research on political issues.

“At our first meeting, we had more than 20 people who came to discuss current events and political issues,” Pierce says.

With funding from the Marsico Internship Program, Pierce traveled to Washington, D.C., where she worked at the institute’s national headquarters as a member of the legislative team. At the end of her internship, she was offered a position as a global policy coordinator to create and edit Think International, a student journal dealing with international affairs.

“Emily is one of those students who remind you how much fun it can be to teach. She doesn’t just learn the material and spit it back to you,” says Assistant Professor Frank Laird from the Korbel School of International Studies. “She digs in, wrestles with it and gets to a deeper understanding than most people do.”

Pierce plans to take some time off this summer to study for the Graduate Record Examination before she begins a temporary job with the Fox News Channel covering the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

“It’s going to be crazy, but what an opportunity to have something like this in our hometown,” she says. “I’m really excited for the opportunity.”

She also plans to volunteer for Betsy Markey’s campaign for Congress in Colorado’s 4th district while she decides where she wants to attend graduate school.

She hopes to work with a development group or human rights group in central Asia and ultimately teach international relations.

“Emily has a wonderfully versatile mind and could go in many different directions in terms of an international career,” says Laird. “I don’t know where she’s going to end up, but I have no doubt she’s an alumna we’re going to be very proud of.”

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