International experiences propel Hoch’s passions

Tara Hoch of Beaumont

Tara Hoch, of Beaumont, is turning her international passion into a profession.

 A senior political science major at Lamar University, her interest in worldwide affairs stems from childhood experiences abroad.

“We lived in Canada until I was six, but when I was four years old, my family relocated to the Central American country of Belize for a year while my father was involved in the Belize River Watershed Water Quality Project,” said Hoch.

Living in a foreign country was an impressionable experience for Hoch at such an early age.

“I found myself more understanding of and excited by other worldviews, cultures, governments, places and languages,” said Hoch. “The world, to me, has always been a treasure trove. And the treasures one reaps from it don’t come in any material form, but rather in the form of an ever-expanding outlook.”

Hoch discovered her passion for political science after learning about girls’ education activist Malala Yousafzai while writing for her high school newspaper.

“In high school, the Taliban attempted to murder Malala Yousafzai in the Swat Valley of Pakistan for speaking her voice,” said Hoch. “From that moment on, I sought a way to blend my love for storytelling with an education that would equip me with the tools to understand concepts related to world conflict, geopolitics, international relations, and environmental determinism.”

In 2016, Hoch was selected to attend the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Philadelphia. She reported under the international news organization, Voice of America, and was tasked with taking photos and conducting short interviews for social media.

“I think the most exciting part of my experience at the DNC was feeling that I could actually insert a student’s voice into the goings on of a major international news organization,” said Hoch. “Working alongside reporters for the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Politico and dozens more was one thing, but the comradery some of the senior-most

reporters and photographers from these outlets showed me, a mere shadowing intern, was

inspiring to say the least.”

Surrounded by seasoned journalists and politicians, Hoch was given a firsthand look at the inner workings of the convention.

“Getting both the party point of view from the convention and the point of view of the Bernie contingent and the American leftist movement was incredible. Also, I saw Joe Biden, so there’s that.”

Hoch attended both the National Model United Nations conference in Washington D.C. in the

fall of 2015 and the NMUN conference in New York City in the spring of 2016. She served as Head Delegate of Lamar University’s Botswana delegation during the NMUN NY conference.

“Heading a delegation from a first time model UN school amid veteran competition teams from highly seasoned institutions was daunting,” said Hoch, “especially at the largest and oldest international model UN conference in the world. But I felt that our delegation, representing Botswana, really shone.”

Hoch said that under the leadership of assistant professor of geography Sarah Schwartz, her team was able to gain skills in preparation through impromptu speech writing, public speaking and research.

“Dr. Schwartz was essential to our success as a group and helped us all become more confident and assured in our stances and performance,” said Hoch. “She also showed us some of the best sights and eats in New York City — including the High Line, Staten Island Ferry, and Joe’s Pizza.”

“It took a lot of practice to get to a point where we felt poised to succeed going into that conference, but everyone did so incredibly well,” said Hoch. “It was an amazing experience to make international friends and see diplomacy — both real and performed—in action.”

Hoch and the rest of the LU delegation visited the United Nations General Assembly in the UN Headquarters, where they were able to sit at Botswana’s desk and hear a speech from Jan Eliasson, UN Deputy Secretary-General at that time.

“Participating in model UN gave me a real glimpse into the inner workings of an international institution and left me with a deeper appreciation for the sovereignty of and standpoints formed by world nations, each unique in their history, geography, peoples, governance and values,” said Hoch.

“It left me with many more questions about how we as a world interact in international institutions,” said Hoch. “Through my career and life I hope to define and explain my stances on these and any number of others, but I think to always have questions — to be perpetually curious — is one of the greatest things a person can be.”

Hoch acknowledges associate professors of political science, Maria Elena Sandovici and Thomas Sowers II, for helping develop her goals and interests in within the discipline.

“Both have deepened my love for comparative politics, methods and international relations, encouraged me to be confident in my voice, and have helped me recognize that if I truly apply myself, I’m capable of realizing my wildest dreams,” said Hoch.

“I would not have been able to do even half of what I’ve done during my time at Lamar at any of the other institutions I eyed before making my choice to come here,” said Hoch. “The faculty are second to none, the opportunities for research and creative development are boundless, and there’s a niche for everyone.”

Hoch is a Reaud Honors College student, president of Pi Sigma Alpha Political Science Honor Society, co-founder and vice president of Lamar Allies, a Reaud Honors College peer mentor, and a member of Phi Beta Delta International Honor Society, Lamar Democratic Socialists, Lamar University Press and the Honors Student Association.

She is the recipient of a Mirabeau Presidential Scholarship and has received funding through the McMaster’s Honors Grant for Partners in the Parks, McMaster’s Honors Grant for Study Abroad, the Mirabeau Study Abroad Grant, and a grant from the College of Arts and Sciences and Reaud Honors College to attend the Democratic National Convention. Hoch plans to volunteer abroad and attend graduate school after completing her degree in the fall of 2017.

“I owe such an enormous debt to Lamar University and the Reaud Honors College for the myriad opportunities each has afforded me during my college career,” said Hoch. “Lamar University is a place where you can craft your own unique experience and, through that, pursue your dreams.”

— Lamar University

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