Columbia College senior, Karina Jougla, pays it forward.

From an early age, graduating senior Karina Jougla (CC ‘16) gained an appreciation of life’s challenges, an empathy that would later fuel her interest in issues of global concern.

“My mom had a lot of health problems when I was growing up, so I had to mature quickly,” Karina said. “I know we all face challenges. I try to approach everyone with a sense of compassion.”

As a five-year-old in Carpinteria, California, she enrolled in an after-school program offered by Girls Inc., an organization that inspires all girls to be strong, smart, and bold. According to its website, Girls Inc. provides more than 140,000 girls across the U.S. and Canada with life-changing experiences and solutions to the unique challenges girls face.

The Girls Inc. experience struck a chord with Karina. She remained actively involved with the organization all the way through high school and served as a volunteer in its programs. She credits that relationship with giving her an unparalleled introduction to women’s rights issues as well as chances to develop her gift as a public speaker.

Photo of Karina JouglaEventually Karina was nominated by Girls Inc. to be a national Teen Advisor to “Girl Up,” a campaign of the United Nations Foundation, founded by media mogul and philanthropist Ted Turner. Girl Up engages girls to raise awareness and funds for adolescent girls in underserved communities around the world. Karina’s prowess as a compelling speaker continued to grow, as did her commitment to helping audiences connect the dots between girls’ rights and environmental issues.

“I know we all face challenges. I try to approach everyone with a sense of compassion.”


In September 2014, at an Advocates Breakfast commissioned by the United Nations General Secretary, Ban Ki-moon, Ted Turner ceded his time to Karina so that she could speak to the Millennium Development Goals group of global leaders about the abject conditions of many adolescent girls worldwide.

“We can’t address full gender equality without climate justice,” said Karina. “Women in the global South do the lion’s share of agricultural work and are also one of the most vulnerable populations in environmental disasters like floods. Daughters are the first to be pulled out of school or married off if families can’t provide for them.”

Columbia and New York City have provided an ideal setting for Karina’s ongoing leadership, a place where she has made her global passions local. This past summer, she was among the first group of students ever to sit down with members of the Board of Trustees to discuss fossil fuel divestment. She serves other students as a Resident Advisor. In addition, she recently completed an internship with the No Ceilings gender equality initiative at the Clinton Foundation.

The plethora of opportunity isn’t the only thing about Columbia that resonates with Karina, a Comparative Literature and Society major. “The classical architecture on campus makes me think of The Odyssey. My dad used to read it to me,” she said.

Now at the tail-end of a rich undergraduate chapter, Karina will graduate this spring. She plans to work for a nonprofit organization in the area of—you guessed it—gender equality and human rights.

“I wake up every day knowing how fortunate I am,” Karina said. “I want others to enjoy the same quality of life and the same opportunities.”

Friday, April 1, 2016


Available Date(s): 
Friday, April 1, 2016 to Wednesday, June 15, 2016