Hi everyone! My name is Marcela and I recently joined the YouthMappers team as a Research Associate at Texas Tech University’s Center for Geospatial Technology. I am inspired by your commitment to understanding and addressing global issues while striving to build resilient communities. I am very excited to be a part of a global network of mappers and look forward to working with such a diverse group of student-leaders!
As someone who has traveled, worked, and studied abroad, YouthMappers’ mission to cultivate a generation of young leaders resonates with me because I firmly believe that opportunities to collaborate with and learn alongside peers through cross-cultural experiences contribute exponentially to personal growth. While studying geography and international affairs at the George Washington University, I had the opportunity to study-abroad in Brazil for a year and immersed myself in a culture, language, and community very different than my own. I have a strong interest in Latin America, cultivated in part by my parents who immigrated to the U.S. from the region, and decided to return after completing my bachelor’s degrees. For one year, I taught English at an institute similar to a community college in Barranquilla, Colombia. Both occasions forced me out of my comfort zone, challenged my way of thinking, and helped me understand the international dimension of global issues. I learned a new language (Portuguese!), improved my Spanish, and created friendships with people I wouldn’t otherwise have had the opportunity to meet.
Since then, I have worked in education, research, and youth empowerment in the nonprofit sector over the past 7 years. Most recently, I monitored USAID-funded international scholarship and professional training programs for students from Timor-Leste, Indonesia, and Egypt at the Institute of International Education. From 2013-2015, I supported youth leadership initiatives focused on climate change adaptation, landscape vulnerability and food security through My Community, Our Earth (MyCOE), a federally-funded program, where I worked directly with student-researchers interested in incorporating a geographic perspective and skills for sustainable development. The skills I acquired from my university degree coupled with my international experiences have prepared me to work in an increasingly interconnected world and I hope to continue my career in this field.