International Scholarship and Student Leadership: A Delicate Balance
A profile of TISA president Airin Aguilera
Growing up during the regime of Hugo Chavez made international student Airin Aguilera Riera acutely aware of the ways in which her country was being what she described as “torn apart by his administration.”
Upon arriving at Trent, Ms. Aguilera Riera took a course in International Development Studies and discovered a passion for development as well as politics. She plans to become involved in the planning and enacting of community development projects as a way in which to make a positive change towards reaching high levels of development for all the regions that make up Venezuela.
Returning to Venezuela is at the forefront of her future goals as she takes part in a rigorous academic and extracurricular schedule. A full-time Political Studies and IDST student, Ms. Aguilera Riera is also the president of the Trent International Student Association (TISA), and she maintains a delicate balance between her TISA duties and school.
“Being TISA president demands being constantly on top of many different tasks, and balancing that with my school work has been challenging, but not impossible,” says Ms. Aguilera Riera. Her work includes making sure that the voice of the international community at Trent is heard.
Among Ms. Aguilera Riera’s favourite moments as part of TISA was the 2013 Cultural Outreach Event “Cirque Culturel” that took place at Showplace Performance Center downtown Peterborough. She describes her experience:
“The energy on the day of the show is electric; everyone is super excited and nervous; there’s dancing, singing and an incredible sense of community. Everyone’s hard work is just about to shine on stage. It is simply incredible. When each act is performing, backstage is going crazy, learning the choreography, etc. And when the curtain closes and you hear the clapping and cheers, the feeling that embraces you is unbelievable.”
Ms. Aguilera Riera also works diligently in matters relating to the development of larger TISA bursaries for applicants seeking financial assistance. Seeing people come together from a variety of diverse international backgrounds ranks high among the rewarding aspects of her position with TISA, and she finds it heartwarming that the bonds individuals make when they first meet in September grow into incredible friendships.
Ms. Aguilera Riera’s attraction to Trent began with her knowledge of the acclaimed reputation that the International Program has among Canadian Universities. As she researched the program further, her primary reasons for choosing Trent expanded and became a unique mixture of personal and professional elements.
“The community at Trent is so diverse,” she continues, “that by sharing points of view and personal experiences, my understanding of concepts and theories studied in the classroom are enriched outside of it.”
“I'm here at Trent because, since the beginning, it gave me a different feeling that other universities that I applied to didn't,” said Ms. Aguilera Riera. “My international ambassador gave me really good information that simplified the entire process for me and made me feel incredibly welcomed and accepted.”
On the dean’s list for two consecutive years, and as a recipient of numerous scholarships including the Trent National Renewable Entrance Scholarship, the Trent University International Award, the Trent International Program Continuing Undergraduate Student Award 2012, and the Otonabee College Scholar Diploma for first and second year academic achievement, Ms. Aguilera Riera also has a keen interest in developing her already impressive language skills. Fluent in French, English and Spanish, she has also begun to study German as part of a well-rounded approach to international studies. Given her commitment to diverse community activities that embrace cultural and political issues, and her ongoing efforts to develop TISA in diverse ways, Ms. Aguilera Riera has a promising future that will make good use of the many skills she has developed as part of Trent’s international community. Ms. Aguilera Riera also notes that she “is incredibly lucky and grateful to have a support system of friends that have been with me through my entire TISA journey.”