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Sylvia, EURO Major, Class of ’18

Sylvia N. Roper, Class of ’18, is a double major in Political Science and Contemporary European Studies with a minor in History. She has high hopes for her European career. Sylvia explains her interests in Europe, why she chose the major, and what her future goals are.


What led to your interest in contemporary Europe and the Contemporary European Studies major?

I declared my double major—Political Science and Contemporary European Studies—as a freshman at UNC. My interaction with the European continent started at a young age—as an infant!—and traveling to and from certainly left an impression on me. My mother is from a quaint town near the Austro-Hungarian border; visiting my Hungarian family was always a highlight of my summers. As I matured, traveling around Europe became easier and I found that I had an almost insatiable desire to explore more and more places. I even wanted to complete my undergraduate degree in international relations in Vienna, Austria but this proved implausible. Once I settled on UNC, I began to explore academic offerings that fit my interests most closely (international relations with a concentration on Europe). I found the EURO major and excitedly added it with Political Science to get what I have now.

What aspects of the program are you most drawn to?

The EURO major is a great program for multiple reasons. Because the two track options allow students to choose which lens in which to study Europe, the major is flexible. Although both tracks interested me, I pursue the track on integration and enlargement. Major courses are very insightful on how modern Europe functions and the consequences of its actions both past and present. I have taken courses for the major that I never expected to, such as International Political Economy and Conflict and Nationalism in the Former Yugoslavia.

Other aspects of the major, such as the language component and the opportunities available with the Center, led me to become a EURO major as well. I like that students are required to complete at least five semesters of a European language; it is built-in already, rather than having to peg on a language minor or major to it (unless someone wants to). Having received general education credit for my knowledge of Hungarian, I study German, a strategic language in the European context and also one that I have wanted to learn for some time. The Center for European Studies, a Jean Monet Center for Excellence, also regularly offers intriguing events for their students and the public alike, as well as compelling research and internship aid.

What are your future goals?

As my Carolina career draws to a slow close, I have begun to think more about my postgraduate life. Originally, I was drawn to diplomacy, but after participating in the Burch Field Research Seminar in summer 2016 for which I traveled through the Balkans and Vienna and met with representatives of various international governmental organizations, my plan has changed. I am interested in the work that organizations such as the OSCE and EU do, so one option for me is to pursue a career in intergovernmental organizations. Another route I have in mind is to work for a Europe-focused think tank or non-governmental organization. Lastly, I have always loved to learn; getting my PhD is an aim regardless of which route I choose, but returning to academia is something that I have considered as well. Throughout the course of my life, I hope to live in Europe, learn numerous languages, and help create solutions to problems that European integration and enlargement face today.

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