On Lela Akiashvili’s desk, sat a miniature United Nations Headquarters building that she often looked at fondly while studying during her years at her undergraduate institution and thought, “One day, I’m going to this building as an employee of this building.” Through hard work, devotion to excellence, and her education at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University, this dream became a reality as she spent her summer interning at the Permanent Mission of Georgia to the United Nations.
With a cup of coffee in hand, she walked excitedly down the busy New York streets and entered One UN plaza nervously but confidently. Akiashvili had made it. Once inside, she got right to work. Her anxiety slid away; she had never imagined that just two hours after arriving, she would be at the General Assembly helping coordinate a presentation of the critical annual resolution by Georgia, her home country.
“I was representing my country at the UN,” she said, recalling her time in New York.
Before embarking on her New York adventure, Akiashvili completed her bachelor’s degree in international law at Tbilisi State University in Georgia. She now attends the Bush School and is pursuing a Master of Public Service and Administration.
Serving others has always been a part of Akiashvili’s life, even before arriving at the Bush School. She recalled a time when she volunteered more than sixty hours per week, working for local charities in her community for little or no pay. She found herself constantly helping others.
“I could not explain it to myself,” Akiashvili said about her dedication to volunteerism. “What kept me going? It’s a genuine feeling of helping others and finding something special in that.”
This dedication to excellence and public service is intrinsically a part of her, and her supervisors at the UN did not overlook this. What made her different at the UN was her willingness to work hard and her propensity to do her best.
“The Bush School gave me this idea: ‘be excellent,’” she said. “That’s what set me apart; everything I did was visibly 100 percent.”
Akiashvili has always worked hard, both in her work at the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and during her time at the Bush School. Working for UNICEF in her home country, she helped introduce new policies in Georgia. She observed how policy was created, introduced to parliament, and then written into law. And while she enjoyed this, something was missing—she was not the one designing the policy.
With this redefined focus, she began her education at the Bush School in the policy analysis track to give her the background and tools needed to make policy. During her time here, she has realized that all her learning is preparing her for a world she never allowed herself to dream about.
“Here I realized that if you really work hard, and you are excellent at what you’re doing, you can reach the stars and achieve any dream,” Akiashvili said.