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Political science major Claudia Garcia '14 (second from right) shares a moment with Finland's first female President, Tarja Halonen, and students from other women's colleges at the Sept. 24 "A Global Conversation" event. On the cover: Garcia shares the stage with Farah Pandith, special representative to Muslim communities for the U.S. Department of State. Photo courtesy of Barnard College/Asiya Khaki.

MSMU Political Science Student Joins Top Women in Public Service In New York

Sept. 28, 2012 -- First the female prime minister of Thailand spoke. Then the president of Kosovo, Atifete Jahjaga, delivered her keynote address. By the time it was Claudia Garcia’s ’14 turn to speak to a group of powerful women in New York earlier this week, she was feeling a bit intimidated. But public speaking comes easily to Garcia, a mock trial and moot court veteran in MSMU’s political science department.

She eloquently told the all-female gathering of U.S. State Department officials and global leaders that access to clean water is a basic human right for women in undeveloped countries. Garcia, a pre-law minor, was invited to join the conversation at Barnard College on Sept. 24 for “A Global Conversation: Women Leaders Respond to the United National General Assembly.” The event was presented by the Women in Public Service Project (WPSP), in partnership with the Woodrow Wilson Center.

The day was held in conjunction with the United Nations' 67th regular session of the General Assembly. Garcia was one of eight students from women’s colleges across the country who joined the conversation, which highlighted post-conflict and transitional justice and was moderated by Barnard President Debora Spar.

“It was absolutely amazing, and I was really nervous because I was going to be speaking in front of women who are world leaders and who speak for a living,” Garcia said. “Once I started talking, it just came out naturally for me because I like speaking, especially about an issue that matters. Everyone on the panel was very direct and they were really listening to us.”

A common theme among speakers was the importance of women helping women. “The big thing is that if you’re a woman and you’ve made it, you need to mentor other women coming up behind you,” Garcia said. Before she left, Garcia had her picture taken with former Finnish President Tarja Halonen, the first woman to hold her nation’s highest office.

In March 2013, MSMU will join Scripps College in co-hosting the Institute for Women’s Leadership in Latin America as part of the colleges' involvement in the WPSP, founded in 2011 by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The two women's colleges, along with Mills College, make up the West Coast contingent of the WPSP. Barnard, Bryn Mawr College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College and Wellesley College also are working to engage and inspire future generations of women leaders in the U.S. and around the world. For more about MSMU’s upcoming institute, click here.

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