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Paulina Sosa: Aiming to End Extreme Poverty

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By Jessica Sinn, College of Liberal Arts
Posted: May 15, 2013

Everything changed for Paulina Sosa, a philosophy and psychology double major, when she journeyed to a landfill community in Mexico on a church mission trip. At age 13, she was overwhelmed by a young boy’s desperation for basic needs when she presented him with a couple of trinkets.

“I remember thinking that a piece of candy and a toy car wouldn’t mean that much to him,” Sosa says. “He has nothing, so why would this make much of a difference? But to my surprise, he was completely ecstatic and incredibly grateful for this small gift.”

That experience kickstarted her life’s mission: Fight and end extreme poverty around the world. She began by joining the ONE Campaign, an international antipoverty advocacy group, and encouraged elected officials in her hometown of Brownsville to help make a difference at home and across the border.

While here in college, she found the key to finding sustainable solutions for poverty is through public policy. Her interest in politics intensified as she interned for several political leaders, including Deputy Ciarán Lynch in the Irish House of Parliament in Dublin, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and State Rep. Rene Oliveira (D-Brownsville).

Sosa also served as a student representative for the 2009 Clinton Global Initiative University, an annual meeting that brings together students, celebrities, youth organizations and world leaders to take action on global challenges (watch a video she created about her experience at CGI). She then created the ONE-UT Austin student chapter and ONE Austin city chapter, organized a coalition of partnerships with other like-minded Austin groups and gathered the support of elected and community leaders.

Her next move is to pursue a master’s degree in public health/global health policy at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Her goal is to become a policy analyst with a government agency that focuses on eradicating extreme poverty.

We caught up with Sosa to learn more about her undergraduate experience in the College of Liberal Arts, the lessons she learned in several high-profile internships, and what lies in store for the future. Go to Life & Letters to watch her video and read the Q&A.