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Global Perspectives Certificate Student Spotlight: Madelyn Afshar

Madelyn Afshar gets up close and personal with a camel while studying abroad in Morocco. Photo courtesy of Madelyn Afshar.

Madelyn Afshar was looking for a way to merge her psychology and Middle Eastern studies majors with her interests in international relations and community service. When she found the Global Perspectives Certificate (GPC) program, she knew it was exactly what she was looking for.

Madelyn at the Taj Mahal. Photo courtesy of Madelyn Afshar.

As a part of the GPC, students must complete a minimum of 10 hours of volunteer service with an international focus. Afshar chose to pair her GPC service with a project for her Middle Eastern Language, History and Culture major, one she self-designed with assistance from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Afshar worked with the nonprofit health and human services organization Lutheran Services Carolinas as a mentor for a refugee family from Afghanistan. She helped the family acclimate to life in the United States by aiding them with everyday tasks such as doctors’ appointments, personal finance, and even homework help for the younger two children. “It’s more than a time commitment, you’ve really got to put your heart into it,” explained Afshar. She estimated she spent anywhere from four to eight hours a week with the family and often volunteered more to help others with similar day-to-day tasks.

During her time at NC State, Afshar studied Persian and speaks the dialect of Farsi fluently. Working with refugees has allowed her to practice her language skills, and helped her to pick up a new dialect of Persian known as Dari — the regional dialect spoken by the refugee family she mentored.

Afshar was recently selected as a recipient of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program grant. After completing both her degrees in May 2018, she is traveling to Tajikistan to help teach English during the 2018-19 academic year. In the future, she hopes to attend graduate school to study international relations.

Afshar has advice to students considering the Global Perspectives Certificate: “Don’t be intimidated by the requirements, but come into it with an open mind.”

For students currently pursuing the GPC, Afshar encourages them to take advantage of the opportunities across campus and within the surrounding area to learn more about the different cultures from around the world.

“I’ve always walked away from events having learned something, and especially now, it’s important to learn more about the world around us,” notes Afshar. Reflecting on her time in the GPC and her volunteerism she feels she has a better understanding of the immigrant experience and is dedicated to channeling this knowledge into empathy and support for others.

The Global Perspectives Certificate is offered through NC State’s Division of Academic and Student Affairs. It is a program designed to recognize students for their international studies by encouraging them to continue to pursue global interests overseas and within the United States. To learn more about the Global Perspectives Certificate, please visit the program’s website or contact the program coordinator at