Furmansky in front of a row of flags
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A Pitt alumna and Fulbright scholar participated in the EU-US Young Leaders Seminar

  • Global
  • Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences

Michelle Furmansky, a Fulbright scholar and Pitt alumna, connected with leaders from across the globe in Brussels for the EU-US Young Leaders Seminar, engaging in candid discussions on the evolving dynamics of transatlantic relations, global security concerns and the effects of climate change.

Furmansky, who graduated from the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and David C. Frederick Honors College in April 2023 and has studied in Portugal since September, was among 40 young leaders invited to participate. During the four-day seminar, she and the other leaders toured the NATO Headquarters and observed a case at the European Court of Justice, among other activities.

Throughout the summit, Furmansky had the opportunity to interact with international political leaders and a diverse group of participants, each bringing a unique perspective shaped by their host countries.

[Read more: While at Pitt, Furmansky led a student group that provides pro-bono consulting to local nonprofits]

A Pitt Chancellor's scholar with degrees in politics and philosophy and economics, her views shed light on the implications of these challenges for Portugal and the wider European community. Her research on the socioeconomic challenges facing Portuguese youth allowed her to offer insights into the interconnectedness of global affairs, she said.

Parts of the experience surprised Furmansky, like the time she shook hands with Luxembourg Prime Minister Luc Frieden.

"I didn't expect to have the level of access to the people involved and the institutions that we were visiting," she said. " I think the people were really lovely and asked very insightful questions. It felt like honest conversations rather than just pandering to the audience."

Furmansky said her time at Pitt played a crucial role in preparing her for the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program and the seminar. She credits the University's Portuguese department for instilling in her a deep appreciation for multiculturalism and global perspectives. She also found the support and mentorship from the David C. Frederick Honors College to be extremely valuable.

Through her experiences, she has gained a deeper understanding of global affairs and a renewed commitment to advocating for positive change in an interconnected world.

"I learned a lot from the seminar," Furmansky said. "It broadened my understanding of NATO's role and value, especially in light of recent comments questioning its viability as an institution. This experience underscored the importance of informed perspectives in advocating for policies addressing pressing issues like youth unemployment and climate change.”

Looking ahead, Furmansky plans to leverage her experiences to contribute to discussions surrounding global security and diplomatic relations. Whether through advocacy or research, she aims to make a meaningful impact informed by her time abroad.

But no matter how far her adventures have taken her, Furmansky said her passion for global affairs came from Pitt and the city of Pittsburgh.

"Pittsburgh may not be the most global city, but the opportunities for cultural exploration and academic growth were invaluable," she said.


— Donovan Harrell, photos courtesy of Michelle Furmansky