Maria Paula Quintero Arteta
McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts, University Honors College
Double major in International Relations and Communication Studies
A Duquesne Cultural Ambassador and Resident Assistant with a passion for helping others.
"We have each been challenged to learn and grow - and to overcome adversity," says undergraduate commencement speaker Maria Paula Quintero Arteta. The final year of Maria Paula's undergraduate experience at Duquesne was something she could have never predicted. As the pandemic changed her spring, summer and fall, she took it all in stride and forged ahead with bigger goals in mind.
Raised in Cartagena, Colombia, the 2020 summa cum laude graduate spent a large portion of her time on the Bluff helping other students feel more connected to the campus community. Maria Paula is a long-serving Cultural Ambassador and was this year elected as a Co-Director. Guiding other international students started for Maria Paula her first year at Duquesne during the English as a Second Language (ESL) Program's conversation hours because her English was so good. She remarked that she felt empathy for new students who were working to better their English language skills.
Maria Paula has also been a Resident Assistant (RA) in St. Ann Hall and served as the Residence Hall Association (RHA) Executive President and St. Ann Hall Residence Hall Council President. "Being able to guide them (first-year students) through those first steps of the whole college process is nice. It's also the family that you build with the other RAs because now you're friends for life. It's those relationships." For her efforts on behalf of RHA, Maria was awarded the 2019 Student Leader of the Year by the Center for Student Involvement.
Off the Bluff Maria Paula understood that equity and opportunity could begin with her. She was naturally open to the lives and journeys of others and determined she could do her part of creating a future everyone could share in. Maria found a passion for community engagement by providing mentoring, interpretation and translation services for Pittsburgh area immigrants and refugees with Jewish Family and Community Services Pittsburgh. It started as work for her community-engaged class with Dr. Jennie Schulze two years ago, better known as the After School Club at Duquesne with high school students from around the area.
"I know what it's like to be international. I know what it's like for English to be my second language," she says. She valued the opportunity to connect with immigrants and refugees from all parts of the world and to help make them feel at home in Pittsburgh.
In thinking back on the experience, Maria Paula also noted Dr. Schulze's commitment to the role of a teacher-scholar. "Not only does she mentor students and conduct research on refugees and immigrants," but she also walks alongside them as a trusted partner. "She is so invested with the kids (in the After School Club) and you can tell that she wants them to succeed. She puts her heart and soul into it."
Maria Paula has always set bigger goals for herself and this continues with her future career plans. In high school she set a goal to become the first female Latino Secretary General of the United Nations. At Duquesne, "I realized that that wasn't what I wanted to do. I don't need to be sitting at the UN to be able to change the world. I can do it through one kid at a time," she says with confidence. Her most recent internship has been at the Pittsburgh Foundation, which she has loved, and wants to work towards becoming the CEO of a mission-driven non-profit organization after she finishes her joint MBA/MA in Communications in the Palumbo-Donahue School of Business and McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts. "I'm not going anywhere. I'm committed. Thinking about others has to drive you because we're not alone."