After spending nearly a decade as a member of Congress, working with American senators, and helping resolve human rights and environmental issues on a national scale, Knox alumnus Ferran Costa ’94 has been named Andorran ambassador to the United Nations.
Andorra is an independent principality situated between France and Spain in the Pyrenees mountains. Though smaller than the average American city (pop. 83,000), Andorra has become a tourism hub known for its ski resorts. Costa has made a name for himself within the area as a language instructor.
Costa transferred to Knox as a Barcelona exchange student in 1991. His original plan was to visit Knox for a single year and return home. That plan changed when he laid eyes on Knox’s beautiful campus.
At the time, Costa says most of his information about America came from Knox mailings and brochures he could find around Barcelona. He says information about America was much more scarce without widely accessible internet. Because of this, his trip to the area was filled with mixed emotions and anxiety.
“Coming to Knox was so exciting for me,” Costa said. “It was something I always wanted to do. But, I admit, I was nervous during most of the trip.”
After arriving in Galesburg, Costa remembers being shuttled over to his dorm in the middle of the night with a group of other students that he had never met before. In that moment, he remembers that doubt started to creep into his mind. However, he says concerns faded away when the morning light filled Knox campus and he could see his new home for the first time.
“The real magic came in the morning seeing campus in the daylight. I was in total awe, it was incredible. I fell in love with Knox that morning,” Costa said.
Costa ended up staying at Knox for three years, making the most of his time on campus by joining many clubs. He held positions as president of the Spanish and International Club, as well as co-editor role for The Knox Student newspaper. He says that he was amazed by American culture and the access he had to shopping and food around the Galesburg area.
“I’ll never forget the Galesburg Mall. It was something I hadn’t really experienced before,” Costa said.
Costa graduated with a major in international relations. He recalls having little interest in the subject before coming to campus but was enamored with it after taking an introductory class. He would utilize this major with an internship during the winter term of his senior year at the American Chamber of Commerce in Brussels.
Before continuing his political pursuits, Costa took a teaching job in Andorra as an English instructor. He says the move back to Europe fit his lifestyle well, as he could work in Andorra and enjoy his favorite hobby: downhill skiing. Just two years into his teaching career, Costa was offered a role as director of his academy, and would later become co-owner. The academy was a branch of Inlingua international language schools, which would eventually offer Costa a position on their board of directors.
Costa says this appointment was where his political career really began. With his name holding more weight in the Andorran area, he was elected to Congress. This started a long-standing relationship with the Andorran president who, in June 2023, assigned Costa as ambassador. He will remain in this position as long as the president remains in office. “I feel extremely privileged and honored to be in this position,” he said.
Looking back, Costa credits his Knox education for giving him the ability to become a more globally-minded citizen. He looked back at the many perspectives shared during classwork and discussions with Knox faculty and how they helped him critically analyze different realities around the world. Though his journey started as a simple one-year trip to America, he says he’s glad Knox became his home.
“If I hadn't had my Knox experience, I wouldn’t be who I am right now,” Costa said. “It opened up the entire world to me and helped me realize how truly immense it is. Knox helped me see that we’re not too different from one another when looking at the human experience as a whole.”