Oliver Roberts ’18 CLAS is an innovator. As an intern at the US Embassy in Tanzania in fall 2017, he organized and led a gender empowerment presentation for Tanzanian high school girls. He created a lecture series on US History and Government to educate locally-employed Tanzanian embassy workers, and, outside of that internship, he pursued an independent research project with a local non-governmental organization.
“The highlight of my trip was presenting to the Tanzanian high school students. Their passion, curiosity, and intelligence were truly remarkable,” Oliver says.
Oliver received a position at the embassy through the US Department of State Student Internship Program. In addition to his humanitarian work, he helped organize a Congressional Delegation trip for US senators and attended events held by the acting US Ambassador. As a student majoring in political science and communication with aspirations of elected office, the internship was ideal.
“I believe my time in Tanzania provided me an unparalleled experience in international diplomacy,” he says.
However, Oliver’s work was not restricted to just US diplomacy. Prior to coming to Tanzania, Oliver reached out to Medipeace—an international non-governmental organization advocating for equal access to healthcare—regarding an independent research project. Using allocated funds from his boat detailing business, Oliver donated to the project and partnered with Medipeace and the Tanzanian Ministry of Health on a health policy study about hospital overcrowding.
“The project was underway by the second week I arrived in Tanzania,” he says. “Along with the donation, I was welcomed onto the team as the NGO’s social media marketing strategist and project researcher.”
Oliver wanted to work in Tanzania because of his longtime interest in the history, development and culture of Africa. Villanova’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences opened doors to the opportunity. Students of the college have access to personalized career advice, professional development and experiential education through the Office for Undergraduate Students. Oliver found Kathryn Szumanski, director of professional development instrumental in helping him pursue his passion.
“From the first minute I met with Kate to discuss this opportunity, she worked tirelessly, coordinating with countless advisers to make this a reality for me,” Oliver says. “I encourage fellow Villanovans pursue a similar experience because it was truly life-changing.”