Gateways

Svitlana Kobzar

“It is not an exaggeration to say that Model UN changed my life,” insists Svitlana Kobzar. An international student from Ukraine, Svitlana joined Alma’s Model UN team as a sophomore. Her Model UN research often involved global problems confronting children, and she started thinking about the ways she and her classmates could help disadvantaged youth.

Her solution: start a nonprofit organization called Forgotten Children of Eastern Europe (FCEE). “I realized that one of the things I could do was help children in a poor orphanage in Ukraine,” she explains. “Model UN helped me gain the skills to translate that vision – starting FCEE – into concrete steps. Every week in Model UN, we had to do presentations, conduct research and write position papers. These skills were crucial in starting a nonprofit, finding ways to address the orphans’ problems and successfully fundraising.”

The research, writing and presentation skills Svitlana honed through Model UN also helped her earn two competitive scholarships: The Gates-Cambridge scholarship and the U.K. Overseas Research Studentship, both of which launched her into a career in policy research. She has a Ph.D. from the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Cambridge and is the head of Vesalius College’s Department of International Affairs. In addition, Svitlana is a research fellow at RAND Corporation. “Every day, my work at RAND fuels my interest in public policy, which has its roots in my Model UN experience,” Svitlana says.