Josefina Bakhita Gonçalves Soares ’18

Bakhita Soares '18

Majors: Economics and Environmental Studies

Why did you choose to major in economics and environmental studies?

I took an economics class as an elective and throughout the course I realized the subject is very relevant in my daily life. It helps me understand why people do what they do or make choices I sometimes can’t comprehend.

I like environmental studies because I’m interested in the relationship between humans and nature and have passion for environmental issues. By studying both economics and environmental studies, I hope to make better choices when confronted with environmental issues and keep my sights on sustainable development.

What do you hope to do with your degree after graduation?

I hope to return to my home country of Timor-Leste and use the knowledge I’ve gained to contribute to my country’s development. I’d like to work with an organization that spreads awareness about environmental issues and knows how to develop the local economy without degrading the environment. I also want to pursue a master’s degree in sustainable urban planning.

What experiences at Luther have been most valuable so far?

I think the most beneficial experience is attending talks from notable speakers who come to Luther. I also enjoy seeing the great performances organized by Center Stage Series or SAC (Student Activities Council) and the magical Christmas at Luther.

Why did you choose a liberal arts education?

A liberal arts education satisfies my desire for knowledge and fuels my curiosity about different fields of study. It allows me to take courses that interest me outside of my major, which helps make me a more well-rounded and resourceful individual. Environmental studies, for example, is an interdisciplinary field of study, which makes it more complex and interesting. I’m glad I chose this type of education because it has strengthened my critical thinking and writing skills and challenged me personally and academically.

How would you describe the environmental studies and economics faculty?

I’ve found the Luther faculty to be very helpful and approachable. They’re always willing to share their knowledge and often challenge mine. They’re also very passionate about the subjects they’re teaching, which inspires me.

Faculty have played a major role in my journey as a student here. They’ve helped me decide on my majors, learn about opportunities both during and after college, and helped me improve my academic performance.

Has the program challenged you?

None of my classes are easy but it seems I learn the most when I take challenging courses that push me beyond my comfort zone. Fortunately, there is a huge support system on campus. Whenever I struggle, I always find help from faculty, students, and tutors.

How do you usually get involved in the Decorah community?

I usually go to St. Benedict’s church every Sunday and participate in their Spring/Fall Fling. Through the Luther Center for Intercultural Engagement and Student Success Friendship Family Program, I met my host mother, who has introduced me to Decorah from a local perspective. I find there are always lots of activities going on in Decorah, especially during summer. I enjoy going to Lawn Chair Night, the farmer’s market, and Nordic Fest, to name a few.


  • Model United Nations
  • Beta Theta Omega
  • International Students and Allies Association
  • Ethnic Beats