Student view:

Michael Robinson: Success through global engagement

Michael Robinson is a senior in the College of Arts and Letters majoring in Chinese, global studies and anthropology. He is originally from Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

When senior Michael Robinson transferred to MSU his freshman year, he was interested in management, leadership and global affairs, but didn’t know which major would be the right fit for him. It wasn’t until he met with his advisor, Cindy Walter, that everything fell into place.

Robinson explains, “Meet with your advisor, they can help you more than almost anyone else on campus.”

With the help of Walter, Robinson found his fit and began pursuing degrees in Chinese, global studies and anthropology. The unique combination allowed him to achieve his academic goals.

Robinson says, “I’ve always considered myself a global citizen, and I wanted to focus on what that means for me.”

Beyond the classroom

During one of his first classes, a professor encouraged Robinson to take advantage of an immersive Mandarin language program and complement his academic work on campus by studying abroad in China.

“I went to China after my freshman year. I fell in love with it, I have been taking Chinese since I was in sixth grade.”

When Robinson returned to campus, he spotted a poster for MRULE, a multi-racial unity living experience. After getting in contact with one of the program's members about how to get involved, he became a student leader. The job allowed Robinson to gain professional experience while engaging with topics he was passionate about.

“We would have roundtable discussions on relevant issues. We talked about human trafficking, race, class, gender and social justice. We fused that with an emphasis on community building.”

International opportunity

The work that Robinson was doing through MRULE combined with his academic experience lead to an incredible opportunity. In 2014, he received a prestigious nomination to attend a G20 youth summit in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

At the summit, Robinson was one of 200 students from 20 different countries who worked to establish an intercultural dialogue and engaged with some of the most pressing economic and social problems of the moment.

Robinson says, “We talked about how to make education and human rights more accessible on a global level, which is a big issue.”

Robinson was also involved in the creation of a resolution on human trafficking that was later sent organizations like the UN, the World Bank and IMF. During group meetings for the project, he drew on his experience at MSU.

Robinson explains, “I started off in a small group that focused on human trafficking, which I was pretty knowledgeable about because I helped facilitate meetings on the topic for MRULE.”

Applied experience

In addition to his trip to Germany, Robinson engaged with his academic interests by interning at the Lansing Association of Human Rights and then studying abroad in South Africa.

The two experiences overlapped when Robinson was able to apply his internship experience abroad.

Robinson says, “I had an internship with the Lansing association of human rights. I focused mostly on HIV/AIDS research and how that affects youth, which is something that we really focused on while we were in South Africa on our study abroad.”

As he approaches graduation, Robinson has his eyes set on graduate school, City Year, political organizing or Teach for America. Reflecting on his experiences with the College of Arts & Letters, he advises future students to take advantage of the study abroad program.

“I think that any student should do study abroad. You gain valuable experience that’s simply not available on campus.”

 

Story by Will Mianecki. Reprinted from the College of Arts and Letters Student Stories.