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The Will to Achieve

Odalis Pina

Odalis Almendarez Pina ’20 

Texas native Odalis Almendarez Pina ’20 traveled a long way to Dickinson, and since coming to campus, she’s traveled even more. Below, she discusses a transformative service trip to Detroit, studying abroad, her love of the Italian language, an internship with Houston’s Italy-America Chamber of Commerce and the lessons her mother told her that spur her to achieve.

Hometown:

Houston, Texas

Major: 

Political science, with a minor in Italian studies.

Clubs and organizations:  

Multicultural Ambassador, Latin American & Caribbean Club and Trendsetters.

Honors/scholarships/awards:

John Montgomery Scholarship and Samuel G. Rose ’58 Scholarship.

Favorite book:

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

Favorite movie:

Selena.

As I kid, I wanted to be …

… an FBI agent.

Favorite professor:

I would definitely have to say that one of my favorite professors is [Senior Lecturer in Italian] Luca Lanzilotta, who is my also my advisor. Since the day I met him, he has been very supportive of me. He gets to know his students very well; he knows what his students’ interest are, and he keeps you in mind for when he finds something he knows you will be very interested in. He is always on top of his game, trying to find new things for us.

Favorite place on campus:

Kaufman Hall.

Favorite class/learning experience (and why): 

One of my favorite learning experiences was participating on this past spring break service trip to Detroit. I didn’t know exactly what to expect, but I have heard many great things about service trips from students at Dickinson, so I decided to apply. It has been one of the best decisions I have made at Dickinson. I learned so much about Detroit, and about its people.

Proudest accomplishment: 

Every time I try something new that gets me out my comfort zone. Those are my proudest accomplishments because they push me to grow up a bit more.

Biggest influence:

My mom. She has taught me to be strong and independent, to never let anyone tell me I’m not capable of doing something, and that I should never do something to prove to others my abilities. I should do it to prove to myself of what I’m capable of doing.

In a perfect world … 

… there would be no discrimination.

Post-Dickinson plans:

After Dickinson, I will take a year off from academia and work in an organization where I’m able to raise the voice of the Latinx community. After a year, I’m planning to further my education by attending law school.

On studying abroad:

I studied abroad this year in Bologna, Italy. I fell in love with the city and the country. I have made many Italian friends who have helped me improve my Italian, and I've gotten to know more about how life is in Italy, not just academically but socially as well.

About my internship:

Last summer I was an intern at Italy-America Chamber of Commerce of Texas, in Houston, Texas. I truly enjoyed my time in my internship. I had no expectations when I first arrived; I was just trying to be in an environment where I would get to learn more. I was excited to be able to be out in the “real world,” putting in practice my Italian skills. Thanks to my surroundings and to the work I was given, I was able to practice my Italian. It was a good way to start my transition to the Italian culture before I started my study abroad experience.

Most important thing I’ve learned so far:  

To know you are not just a number, that you are where you are because of your hard work. Sometimes it might take you a bit more to get where you are supposed to be, but once you are there, no one can push you away.

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Published July 3, 2019