UA Little Rock student travels the globe to aid in fight for human rights

Photo by BENJAMIN KRAIN ‚??04/20/18--.Andrea Elias will be graduating in Spring 2018 with a degree in International Studies. Elisas is from Mexico and spent time in France during a Study Abroad trip.

Graduating student Andrea Elias couldn’t have imagined having a better experience at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

While pursuing her passion to help others, she encountered one-of-a-kind professors, met friends who became family, and traveled to Asia, Africa, and Europe, meeting new people and making unforgettable memories.

During her time at UA Little Rock, Elias, a native of Leon, Mexico, learned about the plight of vulnerable groups throughout the world, and through the study abroad program and other campus organizations, she was able to visit and work with a number of groups whose basic human rights had been abused.

“Andrea has taken advantage of multiple opportunities to learn more about the world and to get involved,” said Joseph Giammo, associate professor of political science and international studies. “She volunteered at a school for refugee children in Thailand, helped to create a Spanish-language program for Women and Children First, a local non-profit she interned with that helps victims of domestic abuse, and volunteered over spring break with two groups in Houston that help victims of human trafficking.”

Elias also traveled to Morocco for a Model Arab League conference and served as a tutor for French students learning Spanish during her study abroad stay at the University of France.

Elias has enjoyed actively preparing herself for an employer that matches her love for people. She wants to continue to work toward helping to protect and guarantee the human rights and freedom of the underprivileged and disadvantaged.  

“Modern day slavery continues to exist today, and it needs to be eradicated,” she said.

To assist in the fight to make this happen, Elias has been adamant about obtaining an exceptional education. She understands that it is a personal investment in herself, her future, and others. This is what drove her to persevere despite the long nights, little sleep, and loads of caffeine.

“It wasn’t easy, nor was it cheap, but it will all be worth it,” she said.

Elias’ biggest supporters, her mom, dad, step-dad, and sister, have encouraged her throughout her entire educational journey. In addition, she had professors who saw and nurtured her potential.  

“I cannot express my gratitude enough toward my professors and the faculty who truly invested in me,” Elias said. “I am so thankful for Drs. Rebecca Glazier, Eric Wiebelhaus-Brahm, Joseph Giammo, Zachary Hagins, Avinash Thombre, Brian Mitchell, professor Rosalie Cheatham, Emily Bell, Larry Rhodes, and so many others.”

Throughout her journey, Elias met extraordinary people, but none compared to those who became her second family. After joining the Genesis Ministry and Chi Alpha campus ministry, Elias found a home away from home and established friendships unlike any she’d ever experienced.

“These people have made an incredible impact on my life,” Elias said. “I enjoyed all of the game nights, retreats, and study nights, but what I enjoyed most was gaining long-lasting friendships. I got to be in my friends’ weddings, travel around the country, and go to Asia with this group, where we grew and matured, got to help others, and shared the love that God gave us.”

On May 12, Elias will graduate from UA Little Rock with two bachelor’s degrees in international studies and French.

“Looking back, I never thought this season would be anything like it was,” she said. “Besides much growth and knowledge, it was one of such sweet memories.”

Following graduation, Elias plans to take life one step at a time. Her future goals are to learn two more languages and later, pursue a master’s degree.

“Through my university experience, I now know what I am capable of,” she said. “It has been one incredible ride, but it’s far from over. This is just beginning.”

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