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Management Major Takes Leadership Experience to South Africa

July 29, 2013

UC Merced senior Alexandra Hamilton is spending five months at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, studying global markets and business.

Hamilton, a management major and San Diego native, spent a summer in London in 2011 and didn’t think she’d study abroad again, but a global markets and investing course with visiting Professor Mark Harris changed her mind.

“I talked to him nonstop about taking full advantage of my education,” Hamilton said. “Then one day in class he was talking about how we need to take on the challenges of developing countries.”

Hamilton felt so inspired by the lecture that after class she walked straight to the Office of International Affairs. Ultimately she chose the South Africa program because of its location and opportunities.

“It’s kind of a hidden gem,” she said.

Hamilton’s involvement at UC Merced has multiplied over the last couple of years, building skills that will bolster her future career.

She got involved with Associated Students at UC Merced her sophomore year as a member of the Campus Activities Board (CAB). She ran for director of Student Activities for the 2012-2013 school year and became the first female CAB director.

“CAB is like a startup business,” Hamilton said. “We had to create its branding and understand its identity. I continually talked to students about what they hoped to see on campus and knew CAB could make a difference.

“The challenge of entertaining a large student body is the varying personalities of the students. Having multiple large-scale events during the year helps us appeal to everyone.”

Hamilton credits staff members Enrique Guzman, Molly Bechtel and Kristen Hlubik as mentors who have helped her learn to be bold, creative and dedicated as CAB director.

“I’ve learned how to develop my leadership skills, not only to lead the way for others, but to encourage others to lead,” she said. “My freshman year I was pretty quiet, but now everyone knows me as the girl who is able to accomplish what she wants.”

Following her experience in South Africa, Hamilton will finish her bachelor’s degree and then pursue a Master of Business Administration with an emphasis in international relations.

In the meantime, she’s encouraging more UC Merced students — especially other women — to expand their skills the way she has, by seeking leadership opportunities.

“I hope to see more women become leaders on campus,” she said. “I hope to encourage more students to study abroad and understand the incredible opportunity it is to be able to be part of another university’s culture and academics.”

Hamilton’s determination to pay forward what she’s received typifies high-achieving UC Merced students. And now the University of Cape Town community will see her moxie in action.