Amazing Students

Lucas Puente

Senior Honors student Lucas Llanso Puente has a bright future. He has published research about American trade with Nicaragua, and he has worked as an intern at the U.S. embassy in Nicaragua. He is on UGA’s model United Nations team and he holds leadership positions with the Roosevelt Institution, a student-run think tank. He worked in Washington, D.C. for Barack Obama and worked with the finance team at the North Carolina State Ports Authority on an activity based costing project and compiling an audit of their financially material assets. He says he was born to be a Dawg. After graduation, he plans to follow in the footsteps of his father and siblings and pursue a Ph.D.

Hometown:

Wilmington, North Carolina

High School:

E.A. Laney High School

Degree objective:

B.B.A. in finance and A.B. in international affairs with a minor in Spanish

Expected graduation:

Spring 2010

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:

I am a recipient of UGA's Foundation Fellowship as well as the federally funded Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship. I have published a paper about American trade with Nicaragua in The Monitor, a publication of UGA's Center for International Trade and Security and have presented at UGA's Center for Undergraduate Research (CURO) Symposium during each of the past two years. Additionally, I was part of a team that won a PricewaterhouseCoopers campus tax competition last year. With regards to my extracurricular activities, I currently serve as the executive director for the Roosevelt Institution at UGA, having previously been the center director for international trade and security. I am also on the Model UN team, chairing General Assembly-2 (Economic and Financial Affairs) at UGAMUNC, our annual conference. I am a former Peer Financial Counselor, where I gave presentations to UGA students on issues concerning financial literacy. Additionally, I have volunteered with Oasis Católico as a tutor and at the Salvation Army as a soup kitchen volunteer. Outside of campus, I have interned at the U.S. Embassy in Managua, Nicaragua where I assisted the Consul General with visa intake and investigations, American citizen service and migration affairs. I have also interned at the North Carolina State Ports Authority, working with the finance team on an activity based costing project and compiling an audit of their financially material assets. Most recently, I interned in the office of (then) U.S. Senator Barack Obama in Washington, D.C. through UGA's Washington Semester program. I worked under the legislative counsel for finance, researching relevant issues and writing memos and briefs on my findings. After the Presidential election, I worked with the Presidential Transition Team’s economic policy unit until the end of the semester. I spent this last summer also working in D.C, interning this time with the Economic Policy Institute, where I performed financial policy research. Finally, I have been elected Phi Beta Kappa and inducted into the Blue Key Honor Society.

Current Employment:

I currently serve as the Policy Strategist for Economic Development for the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network, a student-run think tank based in Washington, D.C. Essentially, I am charged with directing the organization’s policy efforts in this sector and assisting students across the country as they research and propose policy ideas on such topics. This is a part-time, paid position.

Family Ties to UGA:

My father, Antonio Enrique Puente, obtained his Ph.D. in psychology from UGA in 1978. My brother, Antonio Nicolas Puente, is currently following in my father’s footsteps as he is a student in the Ph.D. program in clinical psychology.

I chose to attend UGA because…

...I was born to be a Dawg. I have a photograph of my family at Niagara Falls when I was three. I was wearing a UGA cap. Although I had the opportunity to attend other universities, I chose UGA because the comprehensive range of opportunities offered to undergraduates was unparalleled. To me, UGA offers the best of all worlds with the Honors Program, the perfect college town of Athens and the benefits of having 33,000 students. There is really no where else in the country where you can take classes with such esteemed faculty, attend nationally televised football games, engage in substantive academic research, listen to fantastic live music, and have access to more than 500 extracurricular organizations. UGA really can’t be beat.

My favorite things to do on campus are…

...reading non-fiction books and print journalism (especially the New York Times and The Economist) around North Campus, engaging in discussions with my professors, friends, and classmates and attending guest lectures. One of my most memorable experiences was listening to Paul Begala outline his analysis of the 2008 political campaigns.

When I have free time, I like…

...playing sports. I am part of the UGA club tennis team and have been playing tennis most of my life. My brother and I often can be found hitting at the courts around the intramural fields. Similarly, I love to run around Athens and, when possible, compete in races including triathlons. I also am becoming a semi-regular pick-up basketball player at Ramsey. Additionally, I enjoy spending time with my girlfriend whether we are relaxing in the Botanical Gardens, soaking in Athens life at a downtown eatery or simply relaxing on the couch after a long day.

The craziest thing I've done is…

...flew to Chicago on a whim on the night of the 2008 Presidential election. I was in Athens, having spent time canvassing and informing students about their polling place when, at literally the last minute, my boss called and told me that he had two extra tickets for the festivities in Chicago’s Grant Park if I could make it there. I quickly booked two airline tickets, and before long my girlfriend and I were in President Obama’s hometown awaiting the election returns. It was the most amazing experience of my life. Seeing history happen first-hand was simply unreal. It is something that I will truly never forget.

My favorite place to study is…

...the Main Library. I can focus best by studying in a quiet, isolated environment and there is simply no place on campus that can offer those qualities like the Main Library. I am in there almost every day, set up around one of my few choice window desks.

My favorite professor is…

...Brock Tessman. I have had the privilege of taking two international affairs classes with Dr. Tessman, one in the classroom and one via a directed reading. He always has engaging classes, with dynamic lectures and active participation among students. Moreover, his international relations simulation was among the most fun experiences I have had in college. Throughout my directed reading, Dr. Tessman provided me with insightful feedback and generally catalyzed my understanding of American foreign policy.

If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with…

...Jesus Christ. He is perhaps the most influential figure in the world and serves as a model and inspiration in my life. Of course, the chance to converse in person with him would be truly priceless and provide a perfect opportunity for me to expansively reflect on my personal spirituality and ethics as well as my greater purpose in life on Earth.

If I knew I could not fail, I would…

...eradicate extreme poverty worldwide. I have a deep appreciation for this issue, having seen poverty firsthand throughout my summer in Nicaragua as well as in my other travels to developing nations. Thus, I feel that the United States has a moral prerogative to work towards this goal and it would be a dream come true to be able to lead such a mission. It is simply unconscionable to allow three billion people to live on an income of under $2.50 a day. With appropriate involvement by the U.S. government, the world could become an immeasurably more livable place for countless global citizens.

After graduation, I plan to…

...pursue a Ph.D., like all of my siblings and my father. I have deep academic interests in political economy, political governance, financial institutions and global economics as well as the aforementioned passion for issues of world poverty and economic development. Thus, a graduate program would not only be extremely well tailored to my academic interests, but also would greatly augment my understanding of the subject matter and thus go far in preparing me for a career prescribing policy solutions to development challenges.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…

...all of my international travels. After my freshman year, I participated in UGA’s study abroad program in New Zealand. I gained class credit in international affairs and ecology and experienced the natural wonders in the land of the Kiwis. After the conclusion of the program, I ventured to Australia and Fiji for a week apiece. Last spring break, I traveled to the island of Borneo (Malaysian side) with anthropology professor Pete Brosius to study native cultures and the relationship between modernization and environmental and cultural preservation. Then, last summer, I spent two and a half months interning in Managua, Nicaragua. I spent my last spring break in South Korea studying Buddhism on a trip led by comparative literature professor Hyangsoon Yi. For my next trip, I am scheduled to make a return trip to Fiji with Dr. Brosius.

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