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Student Snapshot: Shakira Gonzalez Peña ’20

Sharkira Pena Gonzalez '20 (political science) on Dickinson College's campus.

Posse Scholar and political science major Shakira Gonzalez Peña ’20 is committed to helping to make the world a better place. At Dickinson she's gotten involved in social causes, helped fellow students register to vote, educated peers on financial literacy, worked to bring special live acts to campus, taken part in Dickinson’s Phonathon, joined the Trendsetters and Latin American & Caribbean clubs and more. Below, she discusses the class that connected her interests in history, public advocacy and writing; her internship in a D.C. mayor’s office; her research on the U.S. census; and how she enjoyed “the best of both worlds” by studying abroad in Spain and participating in an intensive internship program in Washington, D.C. She also shares practical advice for prospective and new Dickinson students.


Bronx, New York.


Political science.

Clubs and organizations:  

MOB, Trendsetters and Latin American & Caribbean Club.


Posse Scholarship.

The best thing about my Dickinson experience:

The best thing about my Dickinson experience is how active I became in the Dickinson community. I got to register students to vote, educate others on financial literacy, get involved in protests, contribute to the Dickinson Phonathon, and support clubs/organizations and individuals’ projects. I pushed myself to be as selfless as possible in order to learn about ongoing efforts on campus. There’s more to college than just going to class and declaring a major. I believe you have to take part in the community.

Favorite book:

I don’t have a favorite book, but I recently read Becoming by Michelle Obama. It’s one of my favorite reads for this year so far.

Favorite movie:

The Wolf of Wall Street.

Favorite class:

Asian American Literature with Assistant Professor of English Sheela Jane Menon. It was a small class, which made the classroom dynamic much more personal. This class connected to my interest in public advocacy on immigration, it connected to my love for history, and it inspired me to get more into poetry/writing. Professor Menon is also very welcoming and informative, pushing us to discuss readings, quotes and policies.

Favorite place on campus:

The small park in front of Stern. In the beginning of fall semester and the end of spring semester, there are usually roses, lavender and a lot of chipmunks, squirrels and birds there. I often just sit there in between my classes.

Favorite Dining Hall food:

Mac & cheese.

On studying abroad:

I studied abroad in Malaga, Spain, during the spring 2019 semester and in Washington, D.C., for the fall 2019 semester. In Spain I focused on engaging in a different culture. My time in D.C. was focused on my professional path. I got the best of both worlds with my study-abroad experience.

As I kid, I wanted to be…

… an archeologist.

Post-Dickinson plans:

I plan to move to Washington, D.C. I’m currently looking at federal career track and at financial analyst positions. I am also applying to fellowships to further advance my academics.

Little-known hobby/talent:

I like to cook and explore new recipes.

About my internship:

I interned in D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Office on Latino Affairs as a community outreach intern. I got to connect with the D.C. community and promote the mayor’s agenda.

About my research:

I researched the 2020 census and how the digital divide can affect the accuracy of the count. I decided to take on this project because during my time in D.C. and during my internship I focused on promoting census awareness.

Advice for fellow students:

Push yourself out of your comfort zone and visit your professors and deans during their office hours to learn more about them.

Most important things I’ve learned so far:  

Maintain your focus. Aim for respect, not attention. There’s no need to compare your achievements with others. It's all about your own goals and dreams and your progress.

Read more Student Snapshots.




Published May 11, 2020