Ana Hayes is no stranger to world travel. The Queens, NY-born CSI student traveled to Europe as early as nine years old. Now, this summer, the 20-year-old junior at the Macaulay Honors College at the College of Staten Island will travel to Milan, Italy to serve in the U.S. Consulate General in Milan’s Political/Economic Sector.
Hayes, who will graduate in 2017 with a Bachelor’s degree in Russian Language and Culture, and Political Geography, has been inspired by many individuals in her life: Dr. Peter Kabachnik, Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and Global Affairs; Dr. Gerry Milligan, Associate Professor in the Department of World Languages and Literatures; and, of course, her mother.
“My mother and I have traveled together since I was young. Travel has always been a major part of my life, and I want to continue that,” said Hayes, noting that her mother, as a Professor of History at Montclair State University, would receive research stipends and take Ana with her on trips.
After graduating from the International Baccalaureate Program at Curtis High School in 2013, Hayes began at CSI with many of her courses focused on Russia. Her dual Italian-American citizenship also encouraged an active interest in Italian culture and language. Sicily is of especial interest to her, due to her Sicilian heritage.
“One of the most surprising things was that even as I learned more about the world outside the United States, I learned more about my own country. It is fascinating and invaluable for every American,” stressed Hayes.
With the help of Dr. Milligan, Ana conducted an independent study on the migrant crisis and its ramifications for Sicily. While U.S. news coverage has been focused on Northern European reactions to the influx, Sicily plays an important role. It has been the port of entry for many migrants, especially those from Sub-Saharan Africa. Ana studied how these new arrivals affect Sicilians’ self-perceptions. The island, frequently conquered throughout history, is liminal and so its inhabitants’ identities are insecure. Interestingly, many Sicilians feel as alienated from the larger European community as the migrants themselves. This understanding of the immigration crisis helped Ana create a compelling application for the State Department internship.
Her advisor and mentor, Dr. Kabachnik, has also been a positive influence in her academic career. “He encouraged me to do research on Chechnya and that got me interested in doing some very serious research,” commented Hayes, not forgetting the support she has received at Macaulay Honors. “All the people at Macaulay are wonderful and so helpful. They encouraged me to apply for many opportunities.”
Now a Dean’s List student with a 3.9 GPA, Hayes is currently waiting on security clearance for her summer post in Milan. She is also preparing by “staying up to date with Italian news and the migrant crisis.”
When asked how she balances school, travel, and other responsibilities, the student noted how her family dynamics help her to stay focused. “I’m the second eldest of seven children. Learning how to best use my time, flexibility, etc. were all ingrained in me from an early age as a result,” commented Hayes, who also works with the Special Olympics on the weekends, as her brother is autistic.
When she arrives in Italy, her options will be to live with a host family, in a convent, or in her own apartment. Her goal is to be a Foreign Services officer, a diplomat who works at a consulate and coordinates between the local government and the United States.