Through UN Internship, Graduate Student
Sees “Peace-Building” Value of Athletics
Attracted by its internationally respected Sport
Management graduate program, Anna Serenko ’13GCPS came to St.
John's University from her native Russia with dreams of working at
the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games. This spring, however, she
obtained a prestigious internship with the United Nations’
Office on Sport for Development and Peace (UNOSDP), and her
focus completely changed.
Now, rather than work for a professional sports team or league,
Serenko plans to focus on job opportunities with charitable and
other nonprofit organizations. "I never thought I would end up at
the UN, promoting sport as a tool for peace-building and community
development missions," she said. “But I’m confident this is the
right fit for me.”
Serenko applied for the position while waiting for responses to her
inquiries about internships at organizations such as the Brooklyn
Nets and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). She became
interested in the United Nations after writing a research paper on
social and economic development through sport.
Today, her internship responsibilities include aiding in
preparations for the 3rd UN-IOC Joint
International Forum on Sport for Peace and Development, taking
place in New York this June. In addition, she writes articles about
the UN's Sport for Development and Peace (SDP) initiative, along
with speeches for the office’s Special Advisor and the UN Secretary
General, when he discusses issues related to the
After majoring in public relations as an undergraduate in Russia,
Serenko wanted to narrow her specialization to a specific market.
"I chose sport,” she said, “because I've always been involved in
physical activity—from ballet to boxing. St. John's offers one of
the best Sport Management programs in the US, and the idea of
moving to New York City for a few years was very appealing to
Serenko said she prefers the American educational experience to the
formality of Russia. "At St. John's, I feel relaxed, but still
professional. I enjoy the classroom atmosphere and the interaction
between students that comes with group projects and presentations."
She added, "That's the kind of practical experience that instantly
translates to the workplace."
Dr. Emese Ivan, Assistant Professor of Sport Management, with
broadening her view of international sport management. "She has
guided me through the sport for development and peace movement,"
she stressed, and it was for her class that Serenko wrote the
research paper that eventually led her to apply to the UN. All the
faculty members she has encountered at St. John's, she said, have
been "open-minded, friendly, understanding and supportive."
Looking ahead, Serenko hopes to eventually work for an organization
that implements sport-related projects for a foundation or
governing body: "I'm totally committed to work in the