‘Set high goals, because you will learn a lot on the way there’

Interview with MISOC-student Oriana Morales

She is 21 years old and very ambitious. She wants to fight for the rights of people and of women in particular. And her dream is to become Secretary-General of the United Nations. Oriana Morales is a third-year student of Management of International Social Challenges at ESSB.  

She is 21 years old and very ambitious. She wants to fight for the rights of people, and of women in particular. Her dream is to become Secretary-General of the United Nations. Oriana Morales is a third-year student in the Management of International Social Challenges programme at ESSB.

As a child, Oriana wanted to become a veterinarian, but over time, those plans changed. After high school, Oriana’s desire to have an impact on women in difficult situations arose. Oriana: “I have seen how much positivity it brings when there are equal rights for men and women. Unfortunately, I have also seen that in many places, this is not the case. I want to do something about that. I want to stand up for equal rights all over the world. That may sound ambitious, but even if, for example, only a small group of women in Latin America would fare better because of my efforts, it would give me enormous satisfaction”.


The fact that she highlights Latin America appears not to be a coincidence. Oriana grew up in Venezuela — a country that, according to her, goes from one crisis to the next. In addition to the current COVID crisis, her homeland suffers from migration and immigration problems, and women are often discriminated against. “I come from a place where women are secondclass citizens. Even at school, the contact and language is unfortunately too often unfriendly to women. I think my strong will to do something about this inequality results from that,” says Oriana.


How do you then end up in Rotterdam as a student? With a smile, Oriana explain it was a long process. “During my previous studies, I discovered an interest in politics and international relations. For the humanitarian side: helping people in need. I wanted to do something with that! After searching, I ended up in the Netherlands — in Rotterdam. I love the Netherlands. It is an innovative and English-friendly country. And I love Rotterdam. It’s a bicycle-friendly city. I regularly go to the Kralingse Bos: that’s my favourite city-escape place. As an international student, I feel very welcome here, and I love how open the people of Rotterdam are.”

Problem-Based Learning

Oriana is in her third year of the Management of International Social Challenges programme, abbreviated as MISoC. She consciously chose Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences (ESSB). “I didn’t want to solely be reading books. I learn best through interaction, and there is plenty of room for that at ESSB. Our education is problem-based. This means we work in small work groups on a practical issue. I think that how we learn is something that will help us a lot in the future. Problem-based education and the close contact with your fellow students requires you to remain involved in your education. Since it is such an active way of learning, the knowledge stays with me,” says Oriana.

Interdisciplinary approach

MISoC focuses on public administration, but also gives attention to sociology and international relations. This is something Oriana appreciates in addition to problembased education. “Within this programme, you learn to look beyond your own profession. Moreover, with students from 40 different nationalities, I understand what is going on around the world much better. In addition to the theory, this is of great added value to me. I like to approach problems from different angles; it enriches my view. Moreover, with this ‘interdisciplinary approach’, I have more opportunities to move on to a master’s degree.”

Michelle Obama

This year, Oriana will start with the minor International Relations and Human Rights. “After that, I want to do a master’s degree related to women’s rights. Eventually, I want to work with women in conflict situations. That dream has been fuelled by a number of powerful women who have inspired me,” says Oriana. “Michelle Obama is a perfect example for me. She also went through a difficult time and had to fight hard to get where she is now. She proves that all the problems she has overcome are more than worth it.”

Faculty Council

As a member of the Faculty Council, Oriana is already gaining experience in representing a group of people — in this case students of the ESSB faculty. “We want to know what is going on among students. We bring students together and ask what is going well and what can be improved. With that input, we sit at the table with the dean and staff members of the council. I like seeing that the management team responds positively to what we bring on behalf of the students.”

United Nations

After her studies, Oriana wants to work at the United Nations. “Then I want to focus on women’s rights in, for example, Latin America or Africa. Laughing: “And even later, when I am 70, I will be the secretarygeneral of the United Nations.” It’s no surprise that Oriana’s life motto fits her high ambitions: “Set high goals, because you will learn a lot on the way there.” 

Author: Arnoud Gort. 

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