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Natalia Gevara '20 in Krakow Poland

Natalia Gevara '20 spent a semester studying abroad in Poland.

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History and international relations grad urges classmates to "Embrace tomorrow," remain positive

May 7, 2020

Natalia Gevara seems to be everywhere. On any given day you might find the Stockton native speaking to Pacific Seminar freshmen about study abroad opportunities, interviewing students and campus leaders as editor-in-chief of the student newspaper, volunteering in the community or greeting guests at major university events – the list goes on. That’s because the history and international relations double major held five on-campus jobs during her senior year and a leadership role within a professional community service fraternity. 

“I thrive off of being busy,” said Gevara. But her life wasn’t always so fast-paced. Growing up, Gevara likened herself to bookish Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series. She used to spend her free time writing poetry and reading books about travel, culture, history and politics. “I got really interested in international politics at a young age. I remember at 14 years old being the only kid in my class talking about the 2012 election. I was so excited to be old enough to vote one day!”

It’s no surprise that she was drawn to the history program at College of the Pacific and the School of International Studies with its emphasis on study abroad. 

During her junior year she had the opportunity to spend five months in a Holocaust studies program in Krakow, Poland. “My parents didn’t take me super seriously at first,” said Gevara, who had never travelled outside of the United States before. “They thought it sounded crazy, but it was my dream! I even had a countdown clock 60 days out. Eventually they realized there was no talking me out of it and they were very supportive.” The experience was a defining moment of her time at Pacific, taking her to the hallowed grounds of Oskar Schindler’s factory, the Krakow Ghetto and the former Nazi death camp of Auschwitz.

Under the encouragement of history professor Ken Albala, she applied for and was awarded a research grant to travel to Washington, D.C. to do primary research at the National Holocaust Museum last fall. While there, she researched the diaries of Polish-Jewish children as part of her senior history capstone project – giving a voice to the youngest victims of the Holocaust who have faded from memory. She recently wrote about the trip and her study abroad experience on the College of the Pacific blog.

She credits much of her success to Pacific’s caring faculty and to stepping outside of her comfort zone. “I have found, in two departments, professors who know me personally. They know who I am and I love that. It has helped me become the best student that I can be.”  

Like many students who are graduating this year, Gevara isn’t entirely sure what she’ll do next. 

“I’m planning to take a gap year and then I’m going to apply to graduate schools for international studies. I want to write and travel and help people. In whatever way I can do that, that’s what I’ll be looking for,” said Gevara. “I also want to keep learning. Every good thing that has happened to me has come from learning and I don’t want to stop just because I won’t be in school.”

She also plans to continue using her voice, and her words, to spread kindness in the world. Studying the darkest parts of world history has only fueled her sunny disposition and desire to good.

To fellow students who may be feeling anxious about the future, the budding journalist offers these words of encouragement:

“You have managed to get through every difficult thing that has ever happened in your life. This too shall pass. I have also felt like the sun won’t rise tomorrow and asked, ‘how can life go on?’ But life always goes on. Embrace tomorrow as much as you can. Tomorrow is going to be a new day, and the day after that, and before you know it, things will be different. Sometimes you have to take that leap of faith. It’s ok to be scared but don’t let it hold you back.”

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