Community college students explore global perspectives, careers during inaugural event hosted by Stanford Global Studies

More than 80 community college students interested in global studies gathered virtually to explore international career paths at the first ever Stanford Fair for Community College Students.

The day-long event, hosted by Stanford Global Studies (SGS), featured workshops and presentations led by Stanford faculty and scholars, who emphasized the importance of developing a global mindset.

“The goal of the career fair was to empower community college students in their global learning by fostering dialogue and community around global engagement, providing interactive opportunities for students to learn from leading scholars about global research and careers, and foregrounding students’ diverse perspectives and experiences,” said event organizer Kristyn Hara, outreach coordinator at Stanford Global Studies.

Developing a global perspective

Robert Crews, professor of history, opened the event with a discussion about globalism in the 21st century. He acknowledged the ways this phenomenon has benefited society but also encouraged students to “recognize the inequalities, the hierarchies, and the gaps that are also the story of globalization.”

In his concluding remarks, Crews looked at the deep connection between cultivating a global perspective and confronting the world’s most pressing problems.

“I propose that we see our engagement with the globe as more than a career. I propose that we see it as an ethical obligation, one related to the challenges that face us: climate change, migration, public health, the next pandemic,” he said. “The globe is already in our neighborhoods through migration, supply chains, what we consume, what we eat, the news we process, and more. Your generation is going to push the rest of us toward social justice, to challenge racism, to challenge the mistreatment of migrants, and so on. These are all problems that need a global imagination, a global framing, in order to reach our collective goals.”

Following his talk, students had the opportunity to attend seminars led by Stanford scholars, including Saumitra Jha, Rodolfo Dirzo, Rose Gottemoeller, and Allen S. Weiner. In the seminars, they learned about career paths in business and technology, environmental science, government and international affairs, and law.

The students also participated in an interactive workshop facilitated by instructors from the Stanford Life Design Lab. Using design thinking, the students reflected on their personal and professional goals, brainstormed different global career paths, and reimagined their futures.

Navigating the transfer process

The event concluded with a panel discussion featuring three students who transferred from community colleges to four-year institutions in the Bay Area. They talked about the factors that inspired them to pursue their degree programs, the benefits of studying abroad, and what they have gained from incorporating an international perspective into their studies.

“My experiences in community college encouraged and inspired me to seek a more international focus as I continued my studies. It really impacted me to be able to speak with people who had grown up in places and had experiences that were so different from mine,” said Tia Geri, an international relations major who transferred to Stanford from Foothill College. “Incorporating an international perspective, and especially the time that I’ve spent in different countries and communities, has opened my mind to different possibilities and ways of doing things.”

The panelists offered advice about transitioning from a community college to a four-year university and talked about the difficulties of adapting to a new environment. They encouraged other students to make the most of campus resources, such as the career center, and to lean on friends, mentors, staff, and professors for support and guidance.  

“One of the biggest challenges I confronted when transferring to a four-year college was culture shock. I went from a community college that had a large, working class, student of color population, and I landed at a large research institution that had a lot of competition, a lot of elitism, and a lot of wealth,” said Jacqueline Vela, a student at UC Berkeley. “However, as intimidating and even as isolating as it was at first, I don’t want to discourage anyone. What truly helped me cope and move forward was leaning on the different systems of support that you have in your corner. Find safe spaces in or near campus, such as cultural groups or even a transfer center, and practice self-care.”

In their parting words, the panelists stressed the value of attending community college and reflected on the ways their unique backgrounds and diverse experiences have benefited them, especially as they approach global studies.

“My experience in community college did not make me any less of a student. If anything, it actually enriched my experience and gave me an even larger world view,” said Ana María Vázquez, a student at Santa Clara University. “You bring so much to the table, and I really want everyone to believe in themselves and not believe that they’re any less qualified because they transferred.”

This event is one of several K-14 community outreach activities offered through Stanford’s Education Partnership for Internationalizing Curriculum (EPIC) and is partially funded by the U.S. Department of Education Title VI grant. Collaborators include the Stanford Global Studies Division, the Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE), the Stanford Graduate School of Education's Center to Support Excellence in Teaching (CSET), and the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis (CESTA).