Class of 2024
Irla Atanda is originally from Jacksonville, Florida. She graduated from the University of Notre Dame in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in American studies, as well as a minor in international development studies. Her academic career focused on understanding the complexity of global issues such as climate change, political instability, migration, and sustainable development. She spent her senior year writing a thesis on the history of U.S. involvement in Latin America in the 20th century, with a specific focus on the current Venezuelan humanitarian crisis. During her time in college, Irla studied abroad at the University of Cape Town as a Gilman Scholar and Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and received a Boren Scholarship to study Portuguese in Brazil. She currently works at Refugees International as the Special Assistant to the organization’s president and is a 2022 Thomas R. Pickering Fellow. She is proficient in Spanish.
Summer Internship Experience
State Department Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs in the Brazil and Southern Cone Office
As a Pickering Fellow, I interned at the State Department Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs in the Brazil and Southern Cone office. Interning at State has been the most rewarding and motivational experience I have had in my young professional career. During my first couple of weeks, I had the privilege of working on all the desks in the region and learning from all of the desk officers. While on the Argentina desk, I attended the Argentine Embassy’s 213th national day event where I practiced networking and maintaining bilateral relations on behalf of the State Department with our Argentine counterparts. The Brazil desk offered me the opportunity to coordinate consultations for the incoming Deputy Chief of Mission for Embassy Brasilia, as well as accompany the DCM and served as her main point of contact throughout the summer. Most of my substantive experience happened on the Chile desk since I had the opportunity to act as the desk officer for a couple of weeks during the summer transition period. I represented the State Department at the U.S-Chile DEIA Steering Committee launch, the XXI U.S.-CHL Defense Consultative Committee, and at the various ministerial-level meetings between American and Chilean representatives. My experience at the State Department was a great opportunity to see what my career as a foreign service officer will entail, and I am looking forward to my career as a diplomat after GHD!