Graduating Senior Spotlight: Q&A with Genesis Maravilla Fernandez

Genesis Maravilla Ferandez in a black blazer and white dress shirt, standing in front of a blurred window

Hometown: Bloomington, MN

Major(s): Global Studies 

Minor(s): Sociology and Chicano & Latino Studies

Activities you are involved in: Sigma Lambda Gamma National Sorority, Inc., Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Program peer advisor & student representative

What brought you to the University of Minnesota and how did you end up choosing your major(s) and minor(s)?

I transferred to the University of Minnesota after my first year at another institution. What drew me to the U was the opportunities I would be able to access like internships, networking, and being able to take classes with well-known faculty. I also wanted to be on a bigger campus because I wanted to expand my worldview by being able to meet students from various backgrounds 

This made me want to major in global studies because I enjoyed learning about different nations and being able to better understand their history along with grasping conflicts occurring around the world. Global studies allowed me to be more aware of events whether political, social, or economic occurrences. 

Throughout my undergrad journey, I really enjoyed being able to explore courses that were not related to my major and I found that I enjoyed sociology after taking SOC 1001. Being able to see why people do the things they do is very interesting which influenced me minoring in sociology. 

In addition, I was able to learn more about my identity and cultural history through Chicano & Latino studies. The courses I took made me learn new things about Chicano/as in the United States and made me aware of various artistic, social, academic movements occurring in my community.

Which CLA class or professor has had the biggest impact on you? Why?

A professor that has had the biggest impact on me is Professor Hassan Abdel Salam. He is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology department and faculty in the Institute for Global Studies. The sociology and global studies courses I had the opportunity to take with him are the most memorable and I will always remember what I learned from them. 

Professor Abdel Salam really fostered creative thinking in his courses to tackle world problems. I enjoyed his wisdom and knowledge he brought to every class. We were able to do simulations and had the opportunity to hear from various guest speakers. His teaching style helped me develop my passions for social justice on a global lens. Professor Hasan Abdel Salam's courses inspired me to minor in sociology and think in a creative way while also showing us how systems like the United Nations operate in times of crises.

What course would you recommend for other students in your major? And for students outside of your major, what course would be a good introduction to what you study?

If you are interested in global studies, I would say a good introduction course would be Knowledge, Power, and Politics of Representation in Global Studies (GLOS 3144); the material learned in this course will contain ideas, scholars, and topics that you will eventually learn about in the major courses and I found this course interesting because I was able to see the connections in the following courses I took and it set me up for the rest of the rest of my major courses. 

A course I would recommend to other global studies majors and students outside of my major would be any course with Professor Hassan Abdel as he teaches very interesting topics like human rights law and racial and ethnic conflict, but one course in particular would be Global Islamophobia (GLOS 3407). We learned about Islamophobia in the US and around the world discussing the repression and surveillance of Muslim communities beyond 9/11. In this course, we also had the opportunity to interact with various guest speakers. We heard from the Executive Director Jaylani Hussein of CAIR MN (Council on American-Islamist Relations), Holocaust survivor Dora Zaidenweber, and Dr Dadery, a member of the Egyptian Parliament.

Tell us about a class you still think a lot about.

A class that I think about a lot is HIST 3838 Policing in the 20th Century US. I took this course because its title caught my attention during registration. Policing has been something that has been looked at and discussed very closely particularly in Minnesota because of the murder of George Floyd in May 2020. This class made me think critically about the history of police from its creation to the present day. I enjoyed engaging in discussions with my peers as we learned and grew from each other. We all had different knowledge coming into the course. HIST 3838 made me think more about policing and how it showed up in our communities. It's knowledge I will carry with me into the real world.

Which of the core career competencies do you think will help you the most in your future career?

Throughout my undergraduate career, I found that I have engaged many of the core competencies on campus and internships, and the core career competency that will help me the most is Engaging Diversity. I believe that this is very important because in our careers we will encounter and work with people that come from different cultures, religions, and have different perspectives than us. It's important to engage in diversity to better understand those around you and exchanging worldviews helps in expanding your understanding and being able to work in diverse environments is beneficial personally or professionally. I have been grateful to have engaged in spaces where diversity, equity, and inclusion was an important aspect of my daily school and work life. I have learned to greatly value diversity.

If you could be any member on a TV show, who would you be?

If I was on the TV show, it would be Criminal Minds. I would be Garcia because I want to be tech-savvy and be able to help the FBI solve crimes with my super knowledge of technology.

What's next for you? What are your post-graduation plans?

Following my graduation from the University of Minnesota, I will be doing a year of service in AmeriCorps through College Possible as a College Access Coach. I plan to take a few years off to gain work experience in education and nonprofit work before returning to pursue a master's degree in public policy or International affairs.

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