Studying global issues led first-generation ASU alumna to pursue a career in community advocacy

Ana Licona

Ana Licona pictured in front of the Arizona State Senate building.


Recently, at ASU Day at the Capitol, School of Politics and Global Studies alumna Ana Licona reflected on experiences that led her to pursue a career in public service. In her job at the Arizona State Senate, Licona works to ensure that constituents in Arizona’s 30th Legislative District are valued and represented.

Licona was born and raised in Mesa, Arizona, to immigrant parents who pushed her to achieve a higher education. She graduated from Arizona State University in 2016 with degrees in global studies and sociology. Her education has empowered her to cultivate change within the community at local and national levels.

Question: What was your motivation for studying global studies?

Answer: In high school, I was very involved in extracurricular activities like Model UN and the Global Citizens Club where I learned about political, environmental and social issues. In addition, my own experiences growing up in a first-generation immigrant family opened my eyes to study and understand how global challenges such as immigration and human rights impact our society. I chose to study global studies because the major would provide me with a well-rounded approach to learning and addressing these multilayered and complicated issues, and I wanted the proper knowledge and tools to fight for social justice and human rights.

Q: How was your experience in the School of Politics and Global Studies?

A: Being a student in the School of Politics and Global Studies opened so many doors for me through the myriad opportunities offered to learn outside of the classroom. I participated in the McCain Institute Policy Design Studio and Internship Program in Washington, D.C., where I learned to address foreign policy issues. I also participated in the Arizona State Legislative Internship Program, and I studied abroad in Spain with Barrett, The Honors College. In addition, I participated in the Public Policy and International Affairs Program at Princeton University, which furthered my interest in public policy. These hands-on opportunities equipped me with the appropriate experiences and knowledge to address real-world issues through action and policy.

Q: What has been your most impactful career experience?

A: Upon graduating from ASU, I moved to Washington, D.C., and joined the Obama White House Office of Presidential Personnel where I led leadership and professional development programs for Obama’s 3,000 political appointees. When the administration ended in 2017, I decided to return to my home of Arizona to lead grassroots movements around civic engagement and youth empowerment. Since then, I have worked on different campaigns and voter-registration efforts in order to empower and educate our communities to seek social and economic justice by building political power.

Q: What piece of advice would you give current students of global studies or political science?

A: Be involved and participate! Take advantage of all your resources including internships, study abroad, elective classes, mentorships, staff support, policy events, career panels, speaker series, etc. There is so much that SPGS and the greater ASU community offers to students, and you just need to be open-minded about new experiences and opportunities. Your dreams are valid, and you must work hard every single day to achieve them.

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