FIU Honors Hamilton Scholar Spotlight: Katherine Mesa

David MelendezUncategorized

Katherine Mesa is an FIU Merit Scholarship recipient and Honors College Summa Cum Laude graduate who majored in Political Science with a minor in International Relations with undergraduate academic certificates in Human Rights and Political Transitions, and Civic Leadership and Engagement. Katherine is passionate about supporting the most vulnerable in the community while valuing the importance of establishing equitable opportunities. Community outreach and service have become pillars of her upbringing and are what drive her future ambitions. Katherine’s undergraduate experience has consisted of being a Fellow for the FIU Maurice A. Ferre Institute for Civic Leadership and an FIU Honors College Student Mentor. She currently serves as the Assistant Program Manager for The Children’s Trust Youth Advisory Committee. 

Katherine spent this past spring semester in Washington, D.C., as a Hamilton Scholar and the Governmental Relations Fellow for the FIU in the Washington, D.C. office. Through her fellowship, she helped advocate for FIU’s federal priority themes. She coordinated appropriations submissions to members of the Florida Congressional Delegation on behalf of FIU and aided in strategic communication and outreach initiatives while organizing and scheduling advocacy Hill visits for high-level university leaders and FIU in D.C. fly-in seminar participants. As the Governmental Relations Fellow, Katherine also co-hosted the FIU in D.C. 305 Day event in partnership with the Aspen Institute and eMerge Americas, centered around climate technologies and celebrating Miami culture. Katherine also had the opportunity to speak at one of FIU’s Panther Alumni Week (PAW) events, moderating an all-women panel.

As Hamilton Scholars, students engage in a semester-long policy advocacy project geared towards one of FIU’s federal priority themes, which ranges from environmental resilience to higher education policy, cybersecurity, and health equity. Katherine’s semester project focused on the Economic Development Administration’s ClimateReady Tech Hub. Utilizing her background in conservation education and outreach as a previous intern with the ZooMiami Foundation and volunteering as a naturalist with the FIU Office of University Sustainability, gave her the science communication skills necessary to advocate for FIU’s environmentally focused federal priority research themes. Katherine believes that environmental education and advocacy are paramount for our current generation and hopes to eventually pursue a career in Washington, D.C. centered around tackling the climate crisis in a holistic and interdisciplinary approach, advocating for disenfranchised groups most affected.

Having been a “commuter” during her undergraduate studies, Mesa understands the desire to step out of one’s comfort zone and consider applying for the Hamilton Scholars program. “It was a daunting experience moving to a new city after living in Miami my entire life, and one thing I learned is that the only way you can grow is to push your barriers of comfort to see what you are truly capable of achieving,” says Mesa. The program offers a chance to experience professional life in Washington, D.C., regardless of interests, from politics to healthcare or cybersecurity. 

Katherine expresses deep gratitude for the support and community she found through the Hamilton Scholars program. “One of the greatest things you can do is surround yourself with compassionate, goal-driven people and engage in an environment where you can challenge and push one another toward success. I was fortunate to have found that community through this semester’s Hamilton cohort and the entire FIU in Washington, D.C., team.” Katherine believes that the experience not only helped her grow as a professional but also shaped her into the person she is today. She values the friendships and connections made during the program and is excited to see the achievements of her fellow cohort members.

As Katherine looks ahead to her future endeavors, she remains steadfast in her commitment to advocating for equitable opportunities and supporting marginalized communities. Whether in Washington, D.C., or beyond, she envisions a career centered around tackling the climate crisis and advancing social justice causes, guided by the lessons learned and connections forged during her time as a Hamilton Scholar.