Katherine Sanchez, a junior biology major at Marymount University, always considered herself to be independent. She commutes to school from Alexandria and works part-time. But spending a spring semester in Melbourne, Australia, gave the concept of independence a whole new meaning.
When you find yourself in another country for a semester, it really redefines what the term independent means, said Sanchez, an office assistant at MUs Center for Global Education. Now I feel that Im more confident, and willing to talk to new people and situations.
She has also had a three-week educational experience in Belize to study endangered hawksbill sea turtles as part of a marine biology and tropical ecology course.
Sanchez and Kevin Cramer, a senior majoring in politics, discussed study and travel abroad when they attended the Global Student Leadership Summit April 7-10 in Miami, Florida. They participated in sessions that included looking at identity while abroad, intercultural competency, and applying their experience to their careers. Upon their return, they gave a presentation on the conference to MU students.
Ana-Sofia Alcaraz, Marymounts coordinator for global engagement, said that while study abroad students have a fantastic opportunity to travel and gain experience, its also a time for personal growth.
Studying abroad not only shapes your academic views and changes your world view, it helps expand your professional life and turns those experiences into leadership opportunities, she said.
Sanchez holds multiple positions on campus. In addition to her CGE work, she is vice president of Phi Eta Sigma, an honors student and a peer mentor. In the future, she hopes to study biomedical engineering abroad.
The conference gave me a chance to be more reflective on my study abroad experience, Sanchez said. It made me reflect on how I changed and grew, and what I came away with is that you never really stop learning from that experience.