Alumna Zulema Alejandra Palacios Jaramillo Selected as Fulbright Grantee
Originally from Ecuador, Zulema Alejandra Palacios Jaramillo graduated from JCU in December 2019. She majored in International Affairs and minored in Business Administration. Zulema was recently selected as a grantee by the prestigious Fulbright Foreign Student Program, which recognizes and rewards academically and professionally excellent Ecuadorians who have demonstrated strong leadership skills, offering grants for graduate studies in the United States. She will begin her master’s degree in Conflict Resolution and Peace Studies in the United States next fall.
Zulema currently works for the German Agency for International Cooperation or (GIZ), which operates in over 130 countries and supports the German Government in achieving its objectives in the field of international cooperation for sustainable development.
What brought you to JCU?
I decided to attend John Cabot University after an encounter with Stefania Corrado from the JCU Admissions Office, when she came to visit my high school in Ecuador. At the beginning of my senior year, I wanted to study abroad, and after spending a summer in Italy, JCU was the perfect choice. The opportunity to study in an international environment while living in the country of my dreams was the adventure of a lifetime.
Congratulations on receiving a Fulbright Grant! What was the selection process like?
The process was a little long, and it required a written application that included a personal statement and an essay about my study/research objectives. These two essays were complementary because they gave a full overview of my past experiences, my short term goals, and my future plans and expectations. I was also required to write short essays about my chosen field and about my plans upon my return to Ecuador. Then I was interviewed by 12 past Fulbright grantees from Ecuador. Now the process continues with applications to different schools and other steps until August 2021, when I will be starting my master’s in the US.
How did your studies at JCU help you in pursuing a Fulbright Grant? Which courses and/or professors impacted you the most?
My time at JCU was a key part of achieving this dream. Being a JCU student opened my eyes to the world, I found my passions, and grew personally and academically. I also met great friends and professors who motivated me to leave my comfort zone. While being a student and a Resident Assistant, I realized that I always want to be in an international environment, and learn from people from different cultures and with different experiences. Both classes and student life activities helped me realize that I want to dedicate my life to resolving conflicts. I enjoyed all my classes at JCU, but my favorites were law classes with Professors Chiara Magrini and Lyal S. Sunga, and Globalization and Crime with Professor Isabella Clough Marinaro.
You were the President of the Model United Nations society. How did this experience shape you?
Being President of the MUN Society was one of my favorite parts of my time at JCU. Not only did it help me develop my leadership and organization skills, but it also gave me the chance to travel, meet new people, and educate myself on current global issues. Being part of MUN also broadened my network and put me in some of the most challenging situations I have ever been in. Every single MUN conference was an adventure, whether we were debating against each other, cheering for each other to win, or getting everything ready to welcome students at our annual JCUMUN conference. One of the conferences I remember dearly was SMUN 2017. In this particular conference, many of us were in the International Criminal Court committee and were in opposite positions, which enabled us to share our thoughts and strategies on the case. Even though we were not able to work together during those days, we each saw the best side of our JCU delegates, which then made us a stronger team. I enjoyed every single meeting and conference.
What advice would you give to current/prospective students?
Take advantage of every moment you have in college and in Rome, because time flies! Before I realized it, my time in college was over and I still had not seen and done some of the things on my bucket list, so take advantage of the city and the University. Being in Rome and studying at JCU is a life-changing experience! Make sure you build strong relationships with your professors and friends, as you will have an international network you can always rely on.
What are your plans for the future?
For now, my main focus is to complete my applications for the different master’s programs and keep working at the German Agency for International Cooperation in Quito. After my master’s, I plan to return to Ecuador and join the foreign service.