Nino on the stairs of the Capitol, facing away from the camera and holding a briefcase.
Nino Burjanadze, a junior majoring in political science, on the stairs of the United States Capitol.

Undergrad Nino Burjanadze, a Levermore Global Scholar, has been selected for a semester-long internship with The Washington Center Academic Internship Program in Washington, D.C. She will advocate for better resources for schools located in areas with funding challenges, like Native American reservations and low-income housing communities.

“It was probably the greatest two semesters of my life.”

That is how Nino Burjanadze, a junior majoring in political science at Adelphi, described her time as a youth representative at the United Nations. Through Adelphi’s NGO (nongovernmental organization) status with the UN, she has served as one of around 550 young people from 100 countries who speak up for the concerns of the planet’s youth.

Now, in a new step in her Adelphi journey, she is spending a semester interning with the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools (NAFIS), a Washington, D.C.-based NGO that works to secure funding for public school districts on tribal lands, military installations, Federal low-income housing and national parks.

“I work five minutes from the Capitol,” Burjanadze said of her internship. “It’s a dream come true.”

Choosing Adelphi

Burjanadze stands next to the door of Rep. Doggett's office. A plaque beside her says "Representative Lloyd Doggett, Texas." Next to it is the flag of the State of Texas.

Burjanadze inside the Capitol next to the office Rep. Lloyd Doggett, a Democrat from Texas and a staunch supporter of Ukraine.

An international student from the country of Georgia, Burjanadze first came to the United States when she was just 16 to attend a Harvard Model UN event in Boston. Burjanadze returned to the United States at age 18 to attend Adelphi because she loved the diversity she found on campus and in the surrounding area. She knew she could chase her dreams here in the United States.

“Part of the reason why I chose my degree is because my country is occupied by Russia,” Burjanadze said. “I grew up wanting to know about international law, international relations and human rights. I wanted to see the larger world and learn about the possibilities in a freer place.”

Promoting education in her home country of Georgia is a top career goal, Burjanadze said. “If youth are educated, the future is going to be bright.” That’s how she ended up in the NAFIS internship, coordinated via The Washington Center, a group that matches students to internships and seminars in our nation’s capital.

Burjanadze is interested in border security, human rights and free speech, too. These are all issues she dealt with growing up in a nation that still fights for its democracy and full independence.

Studying Political Science and International Relations

At Adelphi, she’s found people in the Department of Political Science and International Relations who have helped her define her goals. “My professors gave me direction to expand my knowledge and gain experience,” Burjanadze said. Traci Levy, PhD, associate professor and interim chair of the department, has been her adviser and mentor. She has also received valuable guidance from Professor Katie Laatikainen, PhD, Associate Professor Maggie Gray, PhD, and adjunct faculty member Robert Saunders, PhD. Dr. Levy and Dr. Gray encouraged her to apply for the internship, she said, and they continue to support her while she is there.

“Even when I am in D.C., I get encouraging emails from my professors,” she said. “They are a great community. It truly took a village to support and guide me in achieving personal and professional milestones. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have an amazing mother, supportive family, wonderful friends and the inspiring Adelphi community who motivate me daily. I couldn’t have come this far without the people I’ve met and the experiences I’ve had at Adelphi.”

Adelphi’s Long Partnership With the UN

Her participation in the UN program is part of Adelphi’s long and active history with the United Nations. Adelphi became a recognized NGO with the UN’s Department of Public Information (now Department of Global Communications) in 2003, when the administration and faculty sought to emphasize the University’s commitment to global citizenship. The University is also a charter member of the Academic Impact program, a partnership between the UN and more than 1,400 universities. Established in 2011, the program has created an international network of students devoted to supporting human rights, access to education, sustainability, conflict resolution and other admirable UN goals.

Adelphi students have participated in the Model UN Collegiate Conference for 20 years, joining more than 3,000 other students from 40 countries in a five-day simulation of UN operations. Conference participation is part of a National Model UN course offered by Adelphi’s political science and international relations department.

The University’s Levermore Global Scholars program sends students to represent the University at invitation-only NGO briefings at the UN Headquarters in New York City.

Lessons Learned From Ukraine

Burjanadze’s desire to learn about running a government for the people has grown with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We wonder ‘Who will be next?’ ” Burjanadze said. “The invasion of Ukraine made me realize my studies are bigger than myself. I want to go back to my country and share the experiences I’ve had here—use the knowledge I’ve gained to make Georgia better.”

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