Many St. Thomas students dedicate parts of their summer to mission trips, traveling around the state, country and world to volunteer building homes, to serve the poor and to dedicate manual labor. Junior Anna Nolan is putting a different twist on the idea of summer mission work.

From Aug. 9-14 Nolan will join Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and a group of business, education and cultural leaders on a mission to Mexico City and Guadalajara, Mexico, aimed at promoting economic ties with our nation’s southern neighbor. As the sole college student invited to be part of the delegation, Nolan, an economics major, will represent Minnesota, St. Thomas, college students and herself on what she described as “such a cool opportunity.”

“It is so exciting. I’m just really honored to be invited to go on this trip,” Nolan added. “It will be a really packed six days and a great learning experience.”

Dayton’s office detailed the mission’s goals to “promote Minnesota exports and key industries as well as help Minnesota companies establish and build relationships with potential buyers, distributors and partners. The Governor will also showcase the opportunities and market advantages that exist in Minnesota for Mexican companies looking to expand operations into the United States.”

Nolan described the mission’s three pillars – agriculture, education and manufacturing – and the role she is expected to play representing the educational aspect in particular.

“I’ll be attending all the roundtables dealing with education, although I am interested in the economic portion as well,” she said. “I’m just wildly excited. Mexico is our second largest export market, so strengthening these ties is crucial to our economy. I’m so excited to be a part of something so much bigger than myself.”

Nolan said she also will represent formally Study Minnesota, an organization St. Thomas is part of that is dedicated to promoting Minnesota as an educational destination for students around the globe. As an Aquinas Scholar who speaks Spanish and has mission work experience in Ecuador, Nolan was a prime candidate to be Minnesota’s collegiate representative on the trip.

“We are thrilled Anna was chosen for this opportunity,” said Karen Lange, St. Thomas vice president for student affairs. “We know she will do a great job representing the University of St. Thomas and the state of Minnesota. She will be a great ambassador.”

Nolan was granted a professional development grant from the St. Thomas Luann Dummer Center for Women for her trip, and Student Affairs contributed to Nolan’s mission support fee. Looking forward to a full itinerary, Nolan said she was most excited to “learn about the merging of two vastly different cultures and how they come together to reach one economical deal. It’s a really interesting relationship we have with Mexico. On a business level I’m excited to see how I can impact and help this situation.”

After returning from Mexico, Nolan is slated to be the inaugural resident adviser for St. Thomas’ Aquinas Scholars Honors Living Learning Community.

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