Emily von Zedtwitz '22
University of California Santa Barbara
February 5, 2024
Emily von Zedtwitz ‘22, spent her early school years in Shanghai, China, where she attended a German school, learning German, Mandarin, and English. With a Swiss father and Taiwanese mother, Emily’s interest in international relations preceded her time at Athenian. She shared, “While I lived in Shanghai until I was ten, I often visited my grandparents in Switzerland, and was fascinated by the different forms of governments I have come into contact with (China, Switzerland, and the US mainly), including differences in economic regulations and trading policies that generated an interest in the way these countries interacted with one another.” This marked the beginning of Emily’s interest in foreign policy and affairs. Once at Athenian, Emily started acting on her passions, embracing Athenian’s Pillars of both Internationalism and Democracy, by selecting courses that concentrated on current events, political philosophy, government structures and how nations interact with each other.
Why did you choose UCSB and your major?
When Emily began her college search process she was looking for schools with strong foreign affairs and law programs. Although UCSB does not offer an international relations major, Emily knew this was the right school for her just after one visit. She did her research and determined that a major in political science (with two minors in German and Chinese studies) would give equally as much of a foundation for law school and would provide course offerings to support an international relations specialization. Through her course selection, she has been able to fuel her interest in comparative politics, and get a taste of the subject matter she would like to pursue in law school–international transaction law. Last summer, Emily even had the opportunity for hands-on law experience serving as a judicial intern for the Hon. Clifford R. Anderson III at the Superior Court of California, Santa Barbara County.
How did Athenian most prepare you for college?
Emily credits Athenian for providing her the foundation for enacting change. “Athenian encourages students to take the lead on their own learning and provides a platform for student voice through community outreach such as Town Hall and the faculty’s exceptional approach to teaching.” While at Athenian, she co-founded the student store and learned to take an idea to fruition. She saw a need and opportunity for service, and worked alongside classmates, community service directors, and nonprofit organizations on developing a proposal that outlined a permanent location, the logistics as well as funding and staffing plans. Emily now serves in student government at UCSB where she holds a legislative role as a Senator– an elected position responsible for directing the $13 million UCSB receives in student tuition and fees. “Had I not gone to Athenian, I would not have had the confidence to run for this position. Because a campus-wide election takes place to finalize the vote, I experienced a lot of pressure to run a campaign against my competitors who wanted the same position [which she did in the spring of her sophomore year].” Emily is looking to take on a higher role in student government next year, but for now is busy drafting bills and resolutions to enact change around campus. She is most proud of the work she did on representing student concerns about the addition of a new and controversial dorm
on campus. Working on behalf of the student body, the UCSB Senate advocated for student concerns and helped halt further planning of construction.
What advice would you give your younger self?
While Emily appreciates the opportunities provided by Athenian to further cultivate her passion for international relations, she never went on a Round Square trip or exchange. She said, “My biggest regret was I never took full advantage of Athenian’s international opportunities through Round Square.” Emily plans to study abroad next year though, deciding between a political science program in either Geneva and Paris–both with incredible programs that directly connect to her course of study.