With 15 undergraduates and new college graduates in its first cohort, YILI works from a virtual format. The plan arose from Denwood’s personal network and her own international experiences, notably as a Youth Ambassador at Expo 2020 in Dubai, where many of the ambassadors came from coastal states like California and New York.
“I noticed that students of color and also students from noncoastal areas — we didn’t have the same experiences. So I knew entering into international affairs careers in general is going to be harder for us because we don’t have our résumé packed with international affairs opportunities. I came up with this idea … to create a network of people that will help each other achieve these opportunities,” said Denwood, who is from Chicago.
She designed YILI as a project of a 16-week program sponsored by the Pacific Council for International Policy. To meet the council’s criteria, “My project was translating local problems to global problems and figuring out how we can combine the two to create solutions,” she said.
Denwood, who also holds a position with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C., later recruited teammates whom she knew from Tulane.
“It’s been an amazing experience to work in this field and hear other people’s stories about how they’ve also had trouble breaking into this field,” Denwood said. “I feel like, even though we just started, we’ve already made a huge impact on the people we’ve reached.”