November Student Profile : Maria Oliver

Monday, November 30, 2015

Maria Oliver with students in Haiti

Extremely motivated and passionate, Maria Oliver found her way to the Peace and Conflict Studies (PACS) world after spending summers participating in NGO work. Now in her final year of PACS, Maria has a keen interest in continuing this international development work.

In high school, Maria spent her summers working with an organization called D.R.E.A.M.S. (Dominican Republic Education and Medical Support) were she and a group of students would help build homes with the local community. Maria was shocked by the inequalities that she saw and was quickly frustrated about how it seemed like no one was helping. As a result she decided to dedicate her life to doing development work and she saw completing a PACS degree as a step towards this.  

Since starting her studies at Waterloo, Maria has been working with Maria with her students in Haitithe New World Community, an Organization that connects University students with experiences in community development. Maria brought the initiative to the University of Waterloo Campus and has organized regular trips to the Dominican Republic for students. This kind of engagement is a way for Maria to stay connected to her global community, involve others in work close to her heart, and to make a positive and sustainable impact. This is just one of the numerous ways she is involved on the University of Waterloo community as Maria is currently working at St. Jerome’s as the Senior Assistant Activities Coordinator where she helps guide her co-workers in regards with training, mentorship, feedback, professional development and evaluations.

Maria has also recently participated in a PACS Field Study experience through St. Jerome’s Beyond Borders program, an international service-learning learning experience through St. Jerome’s UMaria carrying student in Haitiniversity at the University of Waterloo. In the summer of 2015, Maria made her way to Haiti where she worked with the Haiti Partners Children’s Academy and Learning center teaching English to students. Some of the most valuable lessons Maria took away from doing a PACS Field Study was that her experience really solidified her passion for doing development. She was and still is inspired to create real change in the community that surrounds her.

The Peace and Conflict Studies program has offered Maria with theoretical tools and experiences that have sharpened her view and perspectives of the world of development. Now that Maria is coming to the end of her PACS degree, Maria is beginning to carve out her path and continue to explore what the world of development has to offer.

Maria is also a recipient of the Lina Wohlgemut award, which is given to a peace and conflict studies student who is interested working in service in the developing world.