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Where Are They Now?

Collin Graduate Makes A Difference In South Africa

Many people talk about joining the Peace Corps, eliminating world hunger or devoting themselves to causes that make the world a better place. We talk about it, but most of us do not act on those good intentions. Collin College graduate Marcela Guerrero Casas is not like most of us.

Marcella Guerrero Casas

Marcella Guerrero Casa

Guerrero Casas is currently working at the global headquarters of CIVICUS World Alliance for Citizen Participation in Johannesburg, South Africa. Founded in the U.S., CIVICUS is a non-governmental organization that has close to 500 members and addresses societal issues such as human rights, education and political participation.

“The inequalities here are very strong; you can feel them no matter where you are. The social inequality, racial tension, economics and politics are more difficult to handle than I expected, but they do not stop me from having a normal life here. I am learning the social intricacies of South Africa, but I still manage to have a western standard perspective. It is sort of a dual reality,” she said.

After graduating from Collin, Guerrero Casas earned a bachelor’s degree in international relations at Kennesaw State University and two masters’ degrees in public administration and international relations at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.

Guerrero Casas studied the history of South Africa and was familiar with the politics of the country, but she was not prepared for the reality of the recent apartheid and the economic disparity that still exists.

“There are still a lot of poor black South Africans. It is a very stable country, and it is very wealthy compared to other countries, but there is still existing tension that you would not pick up on unless you lived here. Having come to Africa, my idea of making an impact has changed. I have become more humble. My impact now is in evaluation. In the long term, my impact will be in sharing knowledge and experience,” she said.

According to Guerrero Casas, Dr. Kay Mizell, Collin professor of English, served as an inspiration and cemented her decision to pursue social justice. “My passion to see the world was further intensified at Collin. Talks with Dr. Mizell motivated me to pursue that dream. Dr. Mizell has a passion for international affairs. She has a unique way of bringing politics and what is going on in the world into her classes. It made me realize that everything is connected,” she said.

Guerrero Casas moved to South Africa because she has an interest in post-conflict situations. She seems aware of the fact that most people dream of ideals and do not live them on a daily basis.

“I hope that I am helping to plant the seeds that will translate into a more peaceful environment. Those are long term goals that one individual does not affect by himself; I see myself as a piece of the puzzle,” she said.