The University of Washington Tacoma campus is dedicated to an urban serving mission; which means traditionally underserved students are given opportunities to thrive and achieve their academic dreams—or even achieve things beyond their wildest dreams, like I have done with the Office of Global Affairs Scholarship. I am majoring in Psychology and will graduate with a B.A. degree in spring 2018, and have traveled abroad during the summer of 2017 with the Brazil: Movements and Intersections program. Studying abroad helped me achieve my academic goals because I was lucky to combine different interests that culminated into a comprehensive educational experience abroad. When I came to UWT, I was interested in examining constructs of campus sexual assault and student perception of sexual assault policy.
I knew that Brazil put new laws into place that were radical and innovative and meant to protect women from violence and sexual assault. After finding out that UWT features a study abroad program to Brazil, these two ideas lead me to receive a fellowship to conduct a cross-cultural comparative analysis to examine the intersections of sexual assault, culture and policy within the United States and Brazil. While abroad, I surveyed students, interviewed Brazilian professors, visited specialized Women’s Police Stations, and cultivated professional academic relationships—on top of earning 13 credits for the program.
Studying abroad expelled my Westernized ignorance that comes from only experiencing your own culture. It has made me realize that there is truly no limit to what I can achieve, I am only limited by my own imagination. Studying in Brazil has been just a puzzle piece of the bigger academic picture at UWT. Now, since returning I not only have a capstone thesis in the works, but also plans to apply for the Peace Corps after I graduate to continue learning globally.
Studying in Brazil broadened my perspective, taught me to be ambitious, instilled some grit, and gave me the dawning of a global mindset. The only advice I have for UWT students who are thinking about studying abroad is this: Go for it. At UWT, there are no limitations for what you can do here. You can mold your education to suit your unique interests and create the experiences you want to learn from—you can direct your own learning by taking advantage of the study abroad programs. More UWT students should study abroad because it’s not as difficult as it may seem. At first, I thought that study abroad wasn’t for me—that it would be too expensive or too ambitious and way too many hoops to jump through. But because of UWT’s urban serving mission, I have experience something I first thought impossible. The abundant resources, scholarships, and supportive Office of Global Affairs staff makes things possible.