Hi! My name is Karla Santillan.
I am a freshman at the American University in the School of International Service (SIS), majoring in International Relations and Advanced Leadership Studies.
As a member of the American University’s School of Public Affairs Leadership Program, I recently finished my first-year leadership project focusing on Immigrant and Refugee Rights. My group and I utilized our on-campus resources—as well as connections in our nations capital— to create a scholarship for first-generation immigrants at Cardozo Education Campus in Washington, DC. I benefited from a similar scholarship, which allowed me to the ability to pursue a post-secondary education. Being able to afford a college education is a privilege, by creating this scholarship we created a dent in the cost of attendance for two seniors at Cardozo.
Immigration resonates with me strongly due to my heritage. My family immigrated from Ecuador shortly before my birth, leaving everything behind. Growing up, I saw my family struggle to adjust to life in the United States, giving me a multicultural perspective of the world. My parent’s story caused me to learn a valuable lesson: the only way through adversity is hard-work.
Along with being a hard worker, I pride myself on my ability to empathize with others. Empathy is a leadership trait that is often underrated, but its role is paramount. By being able to connect with others, I can establish meaningful relationships that allow me to effectively lead. Through hard-work and empathy, I plan to achieve my future goals of becoming a leader in Fair Trade for Latin America. Specifically benefiting the indigenous women in the Andes mountains, which resonates with me strongly because of my Quechuan ancestors.