Alumni Profile: Laura Lodesani ('06)
I earned my Bachelor of Arts in International Political Studies (minoring in Spanish and Global Studies) at Drury in 2006. Since then I pursued a Master of Arts in Diplomacy and International Relations at Seton Hall in New Jersey. During my time living in New York I volunteered with multiple NGOs- from fundraising for women affected by HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa to resettling refugees in the city.
Shortly after graduating, I moved to Haiti, where I started volunteering with NGOs and then working with the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti as a Civil Affairs Officer - a civilian component of United Nations peace operations. Our mandate was to work at the social, administrative and sub-national political levels to facilitate the countrywide implementation of peacekeeping mandates and to support the population and government in strengthening conditions and structures conducive to sustainable peace. We worked closely with local leaders, community-based organizations, and civil society groups. During emergencies we were responsible for collaborating with the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA) in assessing needs and coordinating humanitarian responses. My time in Haiti from 2010-2012 really gave me a strong basis to understand field work and the complex situations that can arise and how these influence any type of work that you are carrying out.
I have now been in Panama since 2013 and am currently consulting for the United Nations Development Programme Regional Center for Latin America and the Caribbean. I specifically support the Disaster Risk Reduction unit, which is under the Sustainable Development and Resilience cluster. My daily responsibilities vary from providing technical support in elaborating training materials, supporting the organization of workshops, and preparing and reviewing project reports. I also prepare communication materials that serve as inputs for the dissemination of information and assist project activities to strengthen post-disaster recovery processes in Central America.
Studying at Drury University helped me shape my work ethic. I learned to multi-task and prioritize when dealing with multiple deadlines and under pressure, which I found to be extremely crucial in successfully performing tasks. Another very important aspect of working in the international development field is teamwork, which I learned at Drury through group projects. More specifically participating in Midwest Model United Nations gave me the opportunity to become more confident and familiar with the UN Secretariat work. I must say that working with others is one of the most important skills that these kinds of jobs require. I definitely am grateful that I studied my undergraduate years at Drury University as it allowed me to learn and grow as an individual and prepared me for the professional world.