Washington Ireland Programme: Diana’s story

Diana Oprea moved from Romania to Ireland in 2011 and settled in Rush, Co. Dublin with her family. She is currently a second year student on the BA in Global Business at DCU. At just 18 years old, she was selected as one of the youngest ever participants on the Washington Ireland Programme in 2017.

“I’ve always been somebody who tried to start initiatives in my community and tried to get people involved, particularly when it came to my passions for youth education and youth empowerment. So when I first came across the Washington Ireland Programme, the leadership aspect really appealed to me. I knew I would gain exposure to leaders from diverse fields whose experiences I could learn a lot from.

At our induction before we departed for Washington DC, I got to meet the participating students from a very diverse range of backgrounds. I didn’t actually know a lot about the history of Northern Ireland before the programme so I was like a sponge trying to absorb all the information on its politics. The programme taught me a lot about diversity and tolerance.

From the induction, I could immediately see I was amongst a group of very impressive people that I could learn a lot from. The group was a great source of inspiration and we have remained in touch ever since.

The experience of completing a summer internship in Washington DC was incredible. During our first week orientation, we heard from a number of high profile speakers including Barack Obama’s speech writer. I did my work placement with the American Chemistry Council, a trade organisation representing chemical companies in the US. It was my first experience of working in an office and I was thrown in the deep end from day one, developing my skills working with spreadsheets, writing reports and dealing with people.

The programme also really helped to give me career direction. I was clueless about what I wanted to do but during the programme we had a week in New York where we visited financial firms, the NASDAQ and attended networking events. This interaction helped me to see that I would like to work in finance or consulting.

The programme also improved my resilience and self-knowledge. I now know my values, principles and who I am as a person. Taking part has encouraged me to reach out further as a leader. After returning from the summer internship, I did my community service element of the programme working with a number of organisations including with UNICEF as a Youth Ambassador giving workshops to children on the Sustainable Development Goals as well as with DCU’s Enactus Society, EIL Explore and I joined the board of the Global Citizenship Awards.

WIP is all about leadership and service and in the future I hope to maintain a balance between both of these aspects in my life. I know I would like to be a leader in business but I will always want to keep this balanced with my voluntary work advocating for youth education and youth empowerment.”

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