Dagnija and Kaspars Krēsliņš

Studies at the University of Latvia have opened wide opportunities for many diplomats – personalities who work in the Latvian Foreign Service and expand the international perspectives of our country. American Latvians Dagnija and Kaspars Krēsliņš have donated USD 35 000 to the University of Latvia Foundation for the establishment of a Diplomacy Scholarship and student support.

The Krēsliņš family hopes that in the coming years the new diplomats – recipients of the scholarship will pay tribute to Latvia. In cooperation with the non-profit organization “Friends of the University of Latvia” (501(c)3), the patrons have established a Diplomacy Scholarship for students of the master's study programme “Diplomacy” of the University of Latvia Faculty of Social Sciences Department of Political Science.

The first scholarships in academic year 2019/2020 were awarded to Lauma Cīrule and Signe Gerinoviča, two purposeful master's programme students, at present already graduates. They have acquired diplomatic skills and in-depth knowledge of international relations, organizations, foreign policy, international relations and decision-making.

To continue and strengthen diplomacy of Latvia

The patrons have spent most of their lives and careers away from their homeland, however, their contribution to Latvia is profound, especially after the restoration of independence. Both Dagnija Stemme (1947), who was born in a German camp, and Kaspars Krēsliņš (1938), born in Riga, grew up in a Latvian environment and, together with their parents, became actively involved in Latvian exile society and worked in several local compatriot organizations. Their two sons Kristaps and Laris also retain their Latvian identity. Krēsliņš family often travel to Latvia, where their son Kristaps and his family have been living for 11 years.

The establishment of a diplomacy scholarship is closely connected with the life of patroness Dagnija Krēsliņš. She holds a bachelor's degree in international relations and political science from the American University, Washington D.C. During her studies, she worked as an assistant in the office of the American Latvian Association (ALA), actively participating in the public life of Latvians in Washington. Her career was built in international relations, as well as the implementation of various aid and assistance programmes abroad, especially in Latvia. In September 1991, when the United States recognized the independence of Latvia and the other Baltic states, Dagnija began working in the European Office of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) as the first head of the Baltic chapter. During this time, 1991–1993, the patroness reviewed projects implemented in Latvia, where USAID invested more than 25 million US dollars in projects directed at supporting education, agriculture, electricity, promotion of democracy, health and business development. From 1993 to 1995, Dagnija lived in Riga and was the director of the US Peace Corps in the Baltic states.

Support to the makers of future

Both recipients of the Diplomacy Scholarship emphasize the importance of supporting the University of Latvia students and Latvian higher education in general. “In today's globalized environment, where competition in any field and sphere is intense, the acquisition of higher education contributes to a more successful outcome. Therefore, I would like to extend my profound gratitude to all the patrons, especially to the Krēsliņš family, who open the opportunity for students to implement their aspirations – to acquire knowledge and grasp future perspectives,” emphasizes Signe Gerinoviča.

“The scholarship gave me the opportunity to fully focus on the study process, especially writing my master's thesis. Given that the concept of niche diplomacy is relatively new, academic articles and research are not widely available free of charge. This scholarship provided access to these publications and the theoretical basis, which is very much needed in a case study of primary research.” The author explains that her master's thesis “Forest diplomacy as a potential niche diplomacy in Latvia's foreign policy” is an innovative, original study that challenges the current political direction of Latvia's foreign policy and provocatively analyses the alternatives. “The University of Latvia students, acquiring knowledge in their Alma Mater, are the ones who will create, develop and improve Latvia, as well as its perspectives and opportunities today and in the future,” adds Signe, who has already started working in the home affairs of Latvia.

Lauma Cīrule's master's thesis, on the other hand, is titled “Manifestations of China's soft power in Latvia, Germany and Finland since 2010”. The author emphasizes that the topic is relevant because China is a very fast-growing economy that aspires to the status of a global power. As a result, it needs the support of other countries, which, in turn, leads to the awareness and use of the impact yielded by soft power. “The scholarship gave me a sense of security that I would not have to worry about funding my studies, as well as a sense of satisfaction in obtaining it. It made me realize that I am really learning what is close to my heart, if I have achieved such success,” says Lauma.

It is important to support all students, because any education expands the field of vision. Its expansion, in turn, evokes critical thinking, creating a much more self-reliant, independently-thinking society that is so much needed today. Moreover, it is the financial aspects that often discourage students from entering studies, thus, the opportunity to apply for scholarships may allow many to fulfil their dreams. Even if a person does not work in the field related to the acquired higher education, the record of that education in a person’s CV assures the employer that this person has the willpower and commitment, because it is not always easy to study. Personally, I believe that at least one higher education should be acquired by everyone during their lifetime,” explains Lauma Cīrule, the recipient of the scholarship.


About the University of Latvia Foundation

Since 2004, the UL Foundation provides an opportunity to patrons and cooperation partners to support both the University of Latvia and other leading higher education institutions of our country, thereby investing in the future of Latvia. The priorities of the UL Foundation are to support the most outstanding, dedicated students and researchers, to advance creation of a modern study environment, as well as to promote construction and refurbishment of university’s buildings.

About “Friends of the University of Latvia”

Since 2012, the non-profit organization “Friends of the University of Latvia” has been uniting American citizens of Latvian origin – supporters of the University of Latvia. It is the partner organization of the UL Foundation, founded by the initiative of John J. Medveckis. By donating to this Foundation, US citizens can receive tax deduction. The main task of the foundation is to ensure a brighter future for Latvian education.

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