Meet Emma Dostal

Photo Credit: Emma Dostal
Mon, 10/09/2023 - 12:54

Majors: Global Studies, Modern Language (French), and Advertising/Public Relations

Minors: Political Science
Hometown: Roscoe, Illinois

Year: Senior 

Favorite book and why?
Turtles all the Way Down by John Green. Before I read this book, I was not able to explain everything that happens in my brain in a way that would make sense to others. This book was the first time where I was able to feel what a character was going through. I was able to put my internal thoughts and feelings into a metaphor that made sense to me in explaining how my mental health expresses itself in my life. It was a liberating moment. Also, John Green is amazing.

Favorite movie and why?
Mamma Mia – I really love Abba. Did you know that they were a Eurovision winner? This movie is a lot of fun, but I think the song breaks add to the comedy and my overall enjoyment of it.

Why these majors and minors?
When I was in high school, I was the president of the French club. I grew up equidistant from Chicago, Milwaukee, and Madison - three major cities with lots of cultural activities. I made it a goal to take the club to at least four cultural events each year that I was president. There was one event in particular that I fell in love with: the International Folk Festival in Milwaukee. This festival features traditional food, dance and dress from the multiple immigrant and cultural communities found in the city. This festival is what inspired me to become a Global Studies major. I fell in love with hearing the stories from immigrants who had settled in the city and watching the passion of the dancers proudly sharing their culture. I knew that I wanted to continue learning more.

The story to my Advertising, Public Relations and French majors are less interesting. I was able to take two career development classes in high school that focused on graphic design as well as participate in designing the yearbook and writing for our school newspaper. As soon as I found out what advertising and public relations really was, I knew that it was right for me. I have always loved connecting with others, strategic planning and designing. This major allowed me to do all of those, and learn so much more about digital strategy, communication methods and content creation.

I most recently added the French major after returning from studying abroad in Lyon, France. I was always going to get a French minor after my wonderful experiences with French in high school. However, because of the pandemic, I had to move my study abroad experience to a later year, and I had already achieved my minor before I left. I came back with enough French credits to nearly have a major, so I am completing it to maintain my level of French.

My political science minor is a similar story. When I got to college and really started taking my global studies classes, I found myself constantly drawn to the political science courses. All of the topics seemed fascinating. I ended up adding the major because I found a deep interest in international political science, law, and policy. If I could have added it as a major and still have graduated in four years, I probably would have.

Favorite Classes
The best class that I have taken at UNL so far has been COMM 311 - Intercultural and Intergroup Communication (which is a requirement of the global studies major). This class was amazing! I have nothing but positive things to say about this class. In my daily life, I have a lot of conversations explaining why it is important to speak with people who may have different lived experiences than you and to learn about cultures that are different from the one that you grew up with. This is the class that dives into this idea. It is extremely necessary to open yourself up to hard conversations in order to grow as a global citizen. I hope that those who have not taken this class yet head into it with this same openness to share and learn.

Why should you be a global studies major?
I believe that Global Studies is an amazing major because it allows you to design what you want to do, exposes you to a world of new ways of thinking, and encourages you to dig deeper in making international connections. All three of my degrees boil down to the same point: they focus on making their students effective and intentional communicators. All of these majors have prepared me for a future in foreign service, public affairs, international communications or any similar field that may be of interest.

Extracurricular Experiences
Study abroad: I studied abroad in Lyon, France, this past spring semester. I had known that I wanted to study abroad after my first week of high school French class when I heard my teacher's stories from her time abroad. While I was there, I really learned how to appreciate the gift of language and value conversations. I was able to volunteer with a high school as an English teaching assistant. There, I participated in culture exchanges with the students. Through my classes, I was able to meet many other international students and network with people who work for international human rights non-profits. I know that studying abroad is an incredible privilege and opportunity, so I encourage everyone who goes to make the most of it and take the time to network and truly immerse themselves in their host-countries culture. I was able to visit eight other countries and 10 other cities while there. If you are questioning whether to go abroad, do it, and take advantage of everything that it has to offer.

Extra-Curricular: While at UNL, I have participated in Programs in English as a Second Language (PIESL) as an English conversation volunteer. PIESL works to connect international students at UNL to campus and the greater Lincoln community while organizing cultural exchanges. I initially wanted to participate in this program to meet international students, learn about their home countries, and grow my world understanding. Through this program, I have been able to meet wonderful students and learn so much about countries that I may not have intently studied in my school work. I have had traditional meals, learned about their state holidays and traditions. I highly recommend volunteering with this group or at least attending one of their events as a way to grow your community and understanding.

Internships: I have also been a two-time VSFS intern for the U.S. Department of State. My first internship was with the Central Diplomat in Residence where I was the Nebraska representative. My main role was helping with State Department recruitment efforts and social media campaigns. I coordinated an information session with 17 Nebraska universities. Through this process, I developed the promotional material, organized the registration and created the event layout. It was also my duty to coordinate with Foreign Service Officers and Civil Service Officers to collect information about their duties and how they started in their careers. I organized this information to be shared with the State Department and created social media posts to share on LinkedIn and Facebook. My current internship is with the Bureau of Consular Affairs in the Public Affairs office working with the TravelGov team to promote safe travel plans as Americans prepare to go to the 2024 Paris Olympics. I am also helping to create an interactive map that highlights Consular Affairs economic impact on communities across the United States.

I have had four other internships, but I thought that these may be the most interesting to the audience.

Post-graduation Plans
It is crazy to think that I am graduating so soon! There are still so many things that I want to try, and I do not want to limit myself to just one career path. My current plan for the first one to two years post-grad is to either be an English Teaching Assistant abroad or to go to grad school for foreign policy, peace studies, or something in that nature. The ultimate goal is to work for an international non-profit, the U.S. Department of State, NATO, or the UN. Who says that you can't dream big? However, I know that dreams and goals can change along the way. No matter what, I want to use the work that I do to put positivity into the world and to aid others in their journeys.