Skip navigation

An Enriching Education

SAIS Student

Rayza Oblitas
MAIR '21

Q: What encouraged you to apply to Johns Hopkins SAIS? Who were some of your influencers?

A: Studying abroad, particularly in the United States, was one of my goals since I was in school. At that time, it seemed impossible to even consider it; however, I soon realized it was not that crazy of an idea. While working with the Peruvian government, I met a good friend who was preparing to apply for PhD programs in the United States. She convinced me that I could also pursue a graduate education abroad with preparation and hard work. After that, I had the opportunity to work in Washington DC, where I connected with many SAISers. At that point, everything fell into place, and my family, friends, and colleagues all encouraged me and helped me apply to grad school.

Q: Could you please tell us about your experience with the school’s Student Diversity Coalition?

A: I first connected with the Student Diversity Coalition when I was a prospective applicant. I was partnered with a member of the coalition who answered some of my questions about the school. My conversation with this student was a key factor in my decision to attend Johns Hopkins SAIS. She was incredibly helpful and patient. After our conversation, I knew the school was a perfect fit for me.

Q: What does it mean to you/to your family to have been a first-generation college student?

A: Being a first-generation college student means different things to me. Being able to obtain an education is a source of personal satisfaction. I also feel a sense of responsibility to use the knowledge and opportunities I have acquired in a meaningful way. I hope to contribute to the improvement of living conditions of disadvantaged communities. Finally, this experience has allowed me to grow, learn, and discover new opportunities, valuable friendships, and fantastic places. My family is happy and proud of me for being a first-generation student.

Q: People think of diversity in many ways. What does diversity mean to you?

A: Diversity means embracing relationships based on understanding, appreciation, and respect for each other regardless of our differences. It means to accept and value our differences and dare to connect and learn from each other.

Q: What do you do when you are not studying or working?

I love traveling and exploring new places, especially nature! Right now my travel adventures are on pause given the current situation, though. When I am not studying or working, I love running, singing out loud, and connecting with my family and friends.

Q: Are you the recipient of a scholarship?

A: Yes, I received the SAIS Global Scholarship, the Robert J. Abernethy Scholarship, the Dr. Riordan Roett Fellowship, and last year I was selected as a United Nations Association Graduate Fellow. More recently, I received the Herbert Roback Scholarship from the National Academy of Public Administration. Given my passion for the public service, this recognition means a lot to me. 

Back to Student Stories