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.