Manonh Soumahoro: Diplomat in Training

Posted On October 15, 2013 by Ashton Brasher, Honors College Class of 2015
Categories Uncategorized
Dean Berman awarding Manonh with an Honors College Trustee scholarship for an outstanding paper

Dean Berman awarding Manonh with an Honors College Trustee scholarship for an outstanding paper/project

Manonh Soumahoro’s primary word of advice for fellow students is to ask a million and one questions—a piece of advice that continues to carry her through the realization of her many goals. Manonh, now a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences, came to Georgia State with a passion for immigration reform and the rights of refugees. But, it wasn’t until she studied abroad in Costa Rica that she truly understood the career path she wanted to take.

While Manonh was in Costa Rica, an unlikely circumstance gave her the final inspiration she needed to unlock her educational mission. As she was leaving her hotel one day, she overheard a frustrated argument between three individuals: one speaking Spanish, one speaking English, and the last speaking French—all languages in which she is at least proficient. After realizing that the argument was going nowhere due to the language barrier, Manonh decided to intervene.

“I was able to diffuse the situation fairly quickly by using English, French, and Spanish to clear up a misunderstanding between the affected parties. There were no other witnesses to this event; I received no applauses and no awards for it. Nevertheless, I consider this moment the most rewarding experience of my college career because it speaks volume to the power of an education.” After this experience, Manonh was so moved that she decided to double major in Spanish and Political Science.

After returning from Costa Rica, Manonh set out to gain experience in her new areas of study. Her first step was to secure an internship through thePVS Quote Honors College Capital Experience Internship Program. Manonh worked with the Honors College Academic Advisor and Internship Coordinator Jessalyn Murphy and Dean Larry Berman to ultimately secure an internship with Project Vote Smart in Montana. During her time with Project Vote Smart, Manonh worked as a research and hotline assistant. “I was deeply humbled by my experience working on the Great Divide Ranch for Project Vote Smart. At a time when hyper-partisanship has taken over the country’s political landscape, I was grateful for the opportunity to be around other students who constantly challenged my beliefs and likewise allowed me to challenge theirs.”

To further her experience, Manonh has secured an internship at the Honduran Consulate in downtown Atlanta, working as the Economic and Education Development Coordinator. This incredible environment gives her the special opportunity not only to continually practice her Spanish in the workplace but also to stay engaged in politics that are close to her heart. Manonh and her team are in charge of an immigration reform project. She spends her time reaching out to lawyers, doctors, teachers, and other community professionals, each of whom immigrated to the United States from Latin America in order to create an alliance behind the immigration bill.

Manonh at the Honduran ConsulateManonh’s wealth of experiences has brought her to a set career path: she wants to work as a United States diplomat in Latin America, helping to improve relations between cultures, economies, and government structures. “Immediately after graduation, I would like to move to Latin America. My goal is to work for a nonprofit organization while backpacking through Spanish-speaking countries. After completing this feat, I intend to return to the United States either to work for Teach for America or to begin law school.”

For Manonh, her roots also play a large part in her motivation. “When I came to America from Abijan, I didn’t know how to speak English. Throughout my life, I have paid special attention to how people feel degraded by not knowing how to speak English in this country which places so much value on that skill. I don’t like perpetuating the cycle. Learning Spanish isn’t just going to help me enter the career field that I’m passionate about—it helps me behave as a more productive citizen.” Manonh hopes to serve as a gateway for inter-cultural learning, an example of strong multilingualism, and above all, to use her passions and talents to make the world more livable for those with stories similar to her own—a story ripe with humble beginnings, a dedication to learning, and a promising future.