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ASU student awarded fellowship to study abroad at University of Ottawa


ASU student Bianca Navia visiting Canada during her Killam Fellowship orientation

ASU student Bianca Navia visiting Canada during her Killam Fellowship orientation.

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December 11, 2019

Bianca Navia, a junior at Arizona State University pursuing a double major in political science and global studies, has been awarded a Killam Fellowship to the University of Ottawa for 2019-20.

The Killam Fellowships Program brings exceptional undergraduate students from universities in the United States to Canada as exchange students. Navia, whose academic interests fall under Middle Eastern politics, counterterrorism, national security policy and migration, will be studying at the University of Ottawa.

Navia thanks her interest in international affairs to growing up so close to the diverse city of Houston, which exposed her to various languages and cultures at an early age.

“I always felt drawn to study political science because I loved to read, write, study foreign languages and keep up with current events,” she said.

Navia developed an interest in the Middle East during her freshman year at ASU when she started tutoring Syrian refuges online through the nonprofit program Paper Airplanes. Hearing about the recent politics and events in the region from her students firsthand was an enlightening experience for her.

As someone who aspires to one day be a foreign service officer, Navia pursued classes at ASU to refine her skills. One of her favorites was Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law Professor of Practice Bruce Pagel’s national security policy design course, which focused on U.S. national security policy in the Levant and American-Israeli relations.

This fall, she was also a participant in the School of Politics and Global Studies’ Junior Fellows program under the mentorship of Assistant Professor Valerie Mueller.

“(The Junior Fellows program) was an excellent experience to hone my research skills and contribute in a meaningful way to a research project about migration in Mali,” Navia said.

When applying to the Killam Fellowship, School of Politics and Global Studies Senior Lecturer Henry Sivak agreed to be one of her recommenders. Sivak was the first faculty member that Navia had conducted research with. As a freshman, she would complete an honors contract with Sivak on the 1915 Armenian genocide.

“I have found the faculty within SPGS to be incredibly supportive in helping me achieve my academic goals and providing me with opportunities to conduct research that truly interests and challenges me,” Navia said.

Motivated from her work with Syrian refuges, Navia chose to apply to the Killam Fellowship because she was interested in Canada’s Private Sponsorship of Refugee Program. According to Navia, this resettlement model is unique to Canada and has contributed to tens of thousands of refugees resettling there over the last few years.

“As a Killam Fellow, I want to gain a more in-depth look at Canada’s Private Sponsorship of Refugees program, as well as volunteer in my local Ottawa community to aid in Canadian refugee resettlement efforts,” she said.

In September, Navia completed the fall orientation for the fellowship in Ottawa, where she met with other Killam Fellows as well as Fulbright Scholars. The group of students listened to panel discussions, visited the Canadian Supreme Court and Canadian Museum of History, went on an indigenous walk tour and even played hockey.

Navia will be spending her entire spring semester in Canada for the program.

“I am really excited about exploring Ottawa and taking advantage of the many opportunities in the city and at my host university, the University of Ottawa,” she said.

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