Sophia Gonzalez-Mayagoitia has big dreams.

A double major in International Studies and Public Policy and a minor in Intercultural Global Studies as an undergrad, she is now on track to graduate with an M.A. in Global Finance, Trade and Economic Integration from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies in June. Gonzalez-Mayagoitia is one of DU’s “4+1” students, a program that provides an opportunity for students to achieve both their bachelor’s and master’s degrees in just five years.

After DU, Gonzalez-Mayagoitia would love to work for the World Bank or World Trade Organization. Someday, she’d like to serve as Secretary of State.

No matter where her career takes her, Gonzalez-Mayagoitia knows she wants to be in a position that helps shape international policy and makes a difference in the community.

As a Mexican-American from El Paso, Texas, Gonzalez-Mayagoitia grew up with a unique borderland perspective. “I witnessed the impacts that major international issues and policies had on my local community, both in the U.S. and in Mexico,” she says.

In high school, Gonzalez-Mayagoitia worked with the El Paso Council for International Visitors, a program that receives foreign dignitaries through cooperation with the U.S. Department of State and helps acquaint them with the United States. Gonzalez-Mayagoitia relished attending potlucks and interacting with people from all over the world, including Latin America, Asia and the Middle East. Her experience with the council reinforced her desire to study international relations and public policy in college.

When it was time to decide on a college, Gonzalez-Mayagoitia had her sights set on the University of Denver. She loved the campus, the tight-knight community feeling and the top-ranked Korbel School. “Walking through one of the freshman dorms, I could just picture myself there,” Gonzalez-Mayagoitia says.

There was one problem: The merit scholarships Gonzalez-Mayagoitia received weren’t enough to make attending DU possible. A week before her high school graduation, DU asked her to apply for a departmental scholarship. The night of her scholarship interview, Gonzalez-Mayagoitia learned she had won the Thelma and William Young Scholarship.

“I was so humbled and grateful to have been chosen,” Gonzalez-Mayagoitia says. “Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to attend DU.”

Although Gonzalez-Mayagoitia has always worked while attending DU, her scholarships enabled her to pursue her academic passions and get fully involved in campus life. One of her most formative experiences was serving as vice president of DU’s undergraduate student government.

As a graduate student, the Paul S. Docktor Global Endowed Scholarship has allowed Gonzalez-Mayagoitia to spend time as a research assistant for professor and co-director of the Korbel School’s Global Economic Affairs program, George DeMartino.

“I don’t take my scholarships for granted. Donations to scholarships, no matter how big or small, make an incredible difference in the lives of students like me who have really large dreams and aspirations,” she says.

As a scholarship recipient, Gonzalez-Mayagoitia said she feels compelled to pay it forward when she is able. “I know I want to give back to the University. I know the difference it made for me.”