Name: Andrés Ancona Velasco
Division: Social Science
Home Country: Mexico
After completing four years at NYU Abu Dhabi and graduating with an economics degree, Andrés Ancona Velasco has his eyes set on applying to law school to pursue a degree in international human rights, but not before he gets some on-the-ground experience. He plans on returning to his home country of Mexico to spend a year devoted to providing migrants with the humanitarian aid they need.
In the south of Mexico, Ancona will be assisting migrants in shelters and refugee centers by providing them with food, accommodation, and helping them put together whatever necessary paperwork they may need to move on to the next stage. Aside from wanting to give back to his community, he believes the experience will also help him understand more about migration when he goes to law school.
I have been interested in this for a long time now… we read about these stories, but we don't really understand the complexity until we actually meet the people. It’d be a really good opportunity for me to do so after graduation.
A Round Trip
The journey that led Ancona to where he stands today was heavily influenced by his experiences at NYUAD. Much of his learning happened in the classroom, but he also believes one can learn by adjusting to life as it happens.
Back in 2020, Ancona was keen on taking advantage of the international study abroad programs NYUAD had to offer. He applied to spend a semester in Shanghai. However, an unknown virus was emerging and the University advised him against doing so. As the year progressed with the virus resulting in the COVID-19 pandemic, Ancona’s second attempt to study away in Shanghai was derailed. Instead of harping on missed opportunities, Ancona believes everything in life happens for a reason.
Had he reached Shanghai, the travel safety guidelines and fast changing situation would have sent him home to Mexico to complete the rest of his semester remotely. Instead, Ancona was able to stay on campus, continuing to have access to resources and facilities that supported his student life.
One thing that online classes and a virtual learning environment did not affect was the diversity of his class, their thoughts, and their ideas — it made classes lively with rich insights that stem from classmates living in and coming from different countries.
The pandemic allowed Ancona, who thrives in social environments, to appreciate more intimate gatherings. As we were all asked to keep social distance and limit large gatherings, he began to notice a preference for small group sizes when meeting with friends.
“I’ve come to love the idea of just sitting with three of my peers because you were able to actually have a conversation, unlike when you get a big table of 10 people, you end up not talking to the people who are at the far end,” Ancona explained. These deeper conversations sustain Ancona and he makes more of a conscious effort to attend small group outings.
As a way to conclude his undergraduate life, Ancona will go around campus to say goodbye to friends, faculty, and staff who have helped him or interacted with him in one form or another – but this time, in person.