Missouri State University

Juan Narvaez

  • BA, Global Studies

He has one goal: Help people around the world

Juan Narvaez comes from a developing nation and is dedicated to helping it grow.

Finishing what he started

Juan Narvaez was an accounting major when he took a four-year leave from college. Now he’s graduating with a bachelor’s degree in global studies and three minors: Spanish, Latin American studies and international relations.

"Before school started, I would walk around campus and there were these big posters of students and it had their profiles, interests and their degrees on them," he said. “One of them said global studies and I was like, what’s that? Maybe that could work for me with my interests, and it did."

Another reason Narvaez pursued global studies was to get in touch with his roots.

"I wanted to study it to connect with my roots, my identity, and my heritage and just develop my Spanish."

Global citizen

Narvaez immigrated to the United States from Nicaragua when he was only six months old and has lived in Springfield ever since.

"I was always in and around Missouri State growing up and in high school we would make trips here for whatever reason," he said. "I definitely feel as if it’s an extension of me. I’m a Missouri State Bear and there’s so many services here that have made me feel like I’m part of the community."

Narvaez has studied in Cuba and volunteered at the Mexico-United States border during his time at MSU.

"I volunteered with Raíces, which provides free legal services for people in need and prepares them for the asylum process in the U.S.," he said.

"We conducted interviews with women and children that were fleeing Central America, mainly from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, because there’s just a ton of violence going on there and it’s forced them to flee and seek asylum here in America."

The next step

To Narvaez, global studies is more than just a degree.

"It’s the interconnectedness of the world," he said.

"It doesn’t matter where we all come from. We all interact and our actions do have consequences for other people."

The desire of wanting to help people around the globe fueled Narvaez’s passion and will motivate him after graduation.

"I come from a part of the world that’s marginalized and I feel for that," he said. "I feel for my home country of Nicaragua and just Central America and Latin America as a whole. I want to go back and help them develop."

After graduation, Narvaez wants to gain experience by working for an organization within the region, before pursuing a higher education, where he wants to turn his minor into a master’s degree.

"I want to focus on Latin American studies, so I’m studying and researching schools that have those programs," he said.

"I see myself working on the global level, working for like an international agency with developing either education or policy-making or advocacy or activism, just trying to help people from around the world."