Promoting Women's Rights: Alumna Milena Casabella

Born and raised in California by a Sicilian family, JCU alumna Milena Casabella was Vice-President of Student Government and Events Coordinator for the Athletics Department. In her senior year she was awarded the “John Cabot University Community Service Award” for excellence in organizing events and bringing Gladiator pride to JCU. She recently completed an internship at the World Food Programme (WFP).

Milena Casabella

Milena Casabella

Congratulations on your acceptance to Johns Hopkins! What are you going to study and why did you choose this program?
Thank you very much! I am very excited to start learning again and to have an opportunity to study at one of the best universities in the world. I will be studying International Development, but I still need to choose my concentration. I’ll most likely focus on women’s rights throughout my journey at Johns Hopkins.

I chose the program because Johns Hopkins is rated number one in the world for a Master’s in International Development and because of its vital connections with international organizations and professors with whom I will be taking classes.

What was the selection process like?
The selection process was just like any other university application process. I sent in my transcripts, personal statement, and CV. If you pass that selection process, you are given an interview with either a professor or the dean of admissions. Honestly, I didn’t think I was going to be accepted. Every time my friends asked me about Johns Hopkins I would always shrug it off and say “It’s very competitive so I don’t think I’ll have a chance, but it never hurts to try.”

What are your expectations of Johns Hopkins? What are you most looking forward to?
I have no doubt that I will be tested to my highest capabilities. I’m excited to be academically challenged once again and to be in a classroom full of extraordinary professors and students who have already done so much more then my 23 year old self has.  I’m excited to see what doors my Master’s will open up for my future in the developing field.

What is your career goal?
I am obsessed with organization, so I have established both short term and long term career goals. For my short term career goal, I would like to go into the private sector and work for a humanitarian aid company that helps developing countries. As for my long term career goal, my dream and passion would be to open my own non-profit for women’s rights across developing countries. I want to focus on supplying these women with basic skills for them to live life on their own without the need for a husband or male figure.

How did you start working at WFP? What did the experience teach you?
I came across the internship position for Government Partnership at WFP through the JCU Center for Career Services in April 2016. What they were looking for fit me quite well, so applied. Five days letter I was interviewed and got the position!

The experience was very eye-opening. I learned how to work in a United Nations environment and had the opportunity to work with very influential people. I learned to look for alternative ways of approaching problems and to think on my feet fast, which is highly needed in a big public sector like WFP.

The highlight of my internship was definitely the people I met. You meet people all around the world and develop an unbreakable bond that you can only understand if you work for the UN. There are so many individuals who have done so much good in the world, and you can’t help but hope to be like them one day.

Why did you decide to apply to John Cabot?
Both my brothers attended John Cabot, and absolutely loved it. After my first year studying in San Francisco, I decided I needed something more because I didn’t feel like I was going to grow at my university. Thus, I chose to follow my brothers’ footsteps and transferred to JCU. It was a life-changing decision that nurtured my passion for human rights. I will always be grateful for JCU for giving me all the opportunities that were presented to me, because I would not be here today without the amazing professors, student body, faculty, and overall atmosphere.

Any advice for a new student starting out at JCU?
Enjoy every second of your college career. Get involved, join a club, don’t get too stuck on academics and go out and learn. The classroom can get you only so far; apply for an internship or volunteer and find out what you like to do. Don’t be afraid to fail and don’t be afraid to try new things. Take it from someone who was completely lost in her freshman year of college: I didn’t know what to do or who I was. JCU helps you create your own character and pushes you to get out of your comfort zone.  Oh, and the most important thing of all: travel. It’s the best learning experience you will ever receive outside of a classroom.