Reflections 2023-02-06


By Laura Illa Vidal

It was winter semester again and the Vienna Master Team inaugurated another cycle of Program Assistants. For the last ten years, the Team has been providing the opportunity to talented students to gain meaningful work experience in a highly professional and experienced environment.

As key components of the Team, the Program Assistants are a crucial liaison between students and academic staff, and work in synergy with the team members. Among their responsibilities, they are in charge of a wide variety of tasks, such as supporting teachers in class, assisting the planning and performance of central events for the academic development, as for example a study trip to Kosovo. The new team members have also drawn up new initiatives, for instance the advancement of pivotal strategies to improve the Master’s presence on social media and the creation of the Angewandte’s first and only human rights library.

Following the incredible work of the previous Program Assistants: Leire, Patrick, Aemilia and Rhoda, at the beginning of the current winter semester the Vienna Masters Team welcomed the new program assistants: Fernando, Claudia and Laura.

Claudia Muñoz

Claudia is originally from La Havana, Cuba, but moved to Spain at the age of ten. With time, a genuine interest in the field of psychology grew in her, in particular about what influences our behavior and how we can work with that to improve our society. From then on, she has never ceased gaining knowledge and skills to pursue her professional goal: specializing in psychosocial intervention, focusing on wellbeing and human rights. 

First she undertook brilliantly a bachelor degree in Psychology at the University of Valencia. Over the course of this time, she made her initial contact with the city of Vienna during her Erasmus semester there, focusing on Psychotherapy Science at the Sigmund Freud University. Thereafter, and back to Spain she enrolled in a Master in Prevention and Treatment of Addictive Disorders.

In conjunction with her studies, Claudia started volunteering for the Red Cross. She collaborated with an innovative local project, aimed to develop a Wellbeing and Social Action Program. As she describes this voluntary work: 

“it was certainly a rewarding experience to contribute in such a way to my local community and to see that the daily small changes and improvements can drive enhancements in the people and thus in the society”. 

In her spare time, she loves exploring her creativity by drawing, painting, dancing and knitting, as well as mastering her skills in German. 

Fernando Gómez

Fernando hails from southern Spain, Sevilla. He accomplished a bachelor’s in International Relations – specialized in Security and Foreign Policy – at Loyola University, Seville. According to him, it was during these years that he started developing a true passion towards identity-related and minorities rights topics.  

The latter interests motivated him to really dive into the Sustainable development and Human rights domain through his involvement in different workstations in manifold countries such as Spain, Brussels, Georgia, and Morocco. 

This cultural-diverse immersion has not stopped ever since. Norway was his last stop before landing in Vienna. There, he started pursuing an Mphil in Theory and Practice of Human Rights at the University of Oslo, where he claims to have gained a better understanding of the underlying causes leading to the current global unsustainable dynamics. 

Relatively recently, Fernando has realized how beneficial arts can be to the human rights upgrade. In that sense, he states that being a former amateur ballet dancer has and will definitely influence how he envisions his professional career as a human rights advocate. Poetry and photography will also be in what he calls his “metaphorical working toolbox”, along with people’s testimonies, stories, and life experiences, of course.

Laura Illa

Laura comes from Barcelona. As she recalls, at a young age she began to reflect upon two philosophical and sociological questions: human wickedness and hate. This curiosity and urge to understand the what, the how and the why of these questions marks, defined her academic and professional career. 

She first completed a bachelor in Global Studies at the Pompeu Fabra University (Barcelona) developing an interest in geopolitics, global history and community identities. Over time, she has wisely understood the indispensability to study peace in order to counteract violence and hatred. For this reason, she undertook a postgraduate degree in Peace Culture at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. However, her ultimate interests are the radicalization process, violent extremism and terrorism. Hence, she is currently fulfilling a Master in Prevention of Radicalization and Global Violence at the Barcelona University. Finally, she also noticed that in a society that is moving towards the coexistence with the virtual world and big quantities of data, it is optimal to acquire knowledge in the data science domain, this is why she is currently also studying a second bachelor in Data Science at the Open University of Catalunya, which will undoubtedly move this distinct combination of knowledge and dexterity forward.

During her free time she embarked on musical studies too. When she was nine years old, she decided to learn clarinet, because it is her father’s favorite musical instrument, but what she enjoys the most is playing in an orchestra. As a pastime she also writes professional articles about insurgent extremism and terrorist phenomena. She is also a mountain lover, she likes to use her free time to summit mountains, camping or climbing and it was this passion what encouraged her to volunteer as an instructor in a Scout Group in Barcelona for six years. 

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