Penn State student named a 2020 UNESCO Fellow

Kirsten Schlorff
August 16, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Laura Guay, a rising junior majoring in biobehavioral health and French and Francophone studies, with a minor in global health, has been named a 2020 United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Fellow.

UNESCO seeks to promote peace and security through international collaboration around education, science and cultural heritage. The Penn State UNESCO Fellows Program is a highly selective and significant professional development experience for exceptional Penn State graduate and/or upper-level undergraduate students.

Laura Guay named a 2020 UNESCO Fellow

Laura Guay, a rising junior majoring in biobehavioral health and French and Francophone Studies, with a minor in global health, has been named a 2020 UNESCO Fellow.

IMAGE: Laura Guay

“Laura will join a very select cohort of students nationwide to serve as UNESCO Fellows,” said Mark Brennan, UNESCO chair in community, leadership, and youth development and professor of agricultural economics, sociology, and education in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences. “Her academic success, intellectual curiosity, and ability to bring together a wide range of disciplines made her stand out among the more than 50 Penn State applicants.”

Seven UNESCO Fellows – two from Penn State, one from Salisbury University, and four from the George Washington University – will spend six to 12 months of their 2020 fellowship at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France. Before their assignment, each Fellow will complete 40 hours of pre-departure training, interact with UNESCO staff, and engage in other professional preparation designed to ensure they immediately, and significantly, contribute to UNESCO and U.S. mission programs.

“Ever since I became involved with the Youth as Researchers program at Penn State, the work of UNESCO has seemed to increasingly align with my own interests,” said Guay, who served as lead mentor of the program at State College Area High School and hopes to further develop the program behind the scenes during her fellowship. “Ultimately, I aim to aid youth researchers in their process of participating and growing, working to bring forth a new generation of leaders who continue to support UNESCO’s mission.”

Guay has worked both globally and locally on health and human rights issues. She worked for a non-profit in Senegal, fighting HIV and fighting for human rights for the LGBTQ community. She also volunteers for a U.S. non-profit focused on safe sex, sexually transmitted infection testing, and HIV awareness in Centre County.

This summer, Guay was an intern at the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. While there, she worked on the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)-related HIV projects.

“Laura’s integrative work around public health brings together social and physical sciences while focusing on human rights,” Brennan said. “Her expertise will be invaluable at UNESCO Headquarters, where she will work with multidisciplinary sectors to frame research, practice and policy around youth development and preventing violent extremism.”

Guay’s opportunities and experiences have led her to develop professional interests in global health, human rights and the importance of cultural competency. As a Boren Scholarship recipient for her study abroad experience in Senegal, she plans to work with the federal government for a year after graduating in 2021.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated August 16, 2019