First-Generation and Non-Traditional Students Abroad

Diversity Ambassador Jenny Gonzalez
My name is Jenny and I am an undergraduate student currently in the athletic training program. I am a first generation student from the suburbs of Chicago. I am half Polish and half Guatemalan and, as you can imagine, I was brought up in a household full of different culture. From a young age I was very interested in indulging in different cultures so I knew studying abroad was something I wanted to do when I came to the University of Iowa.

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Diversity Ambassador Ashley Arkfeld
My name is Ashley Arkfeld, and I am a first generation student as well as the first in my family to study abroad. I interned abroad in Barcelona, Spain this summer. Funding a trip abroad for an unpaid internship was something that many of my peers, family members, and friends couldn’t quite wrap their heads around. “Why are you paying to go work over there?” “Couldn’t you get a paid internship here?” “That seems like a waste of money.” I listened to comments and questions such as these for months prior to my trip abroad. Though it seemed silly to so many bystanders, the experience was worth the cost in my eyes. With that being said, scholarships and grants covered 70% of my program costs.

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My name is Kelsey O’Donnell and I am a fourth year student double majoring in International Studies and Anthropology. For my entire third year, I had the amazing opportunity to study abroad in Cork, Ireland. As a first-generation college student, my sisters and I are the first of our family to attend university, while I am the first of my family to travel abroad. As indicated by my choice in majors, I have always enjoyed learning about other cultures and traveling. As a first year student at Iowa, I was bombarded with information about events and opportunities.

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Diversity Ambassador Jose Diaz at Stonehenge
I never have traveled outside of the Continental US and Mexico. Being a first-generation student from a Mexican background, every opportunity I have had to go on a trip was usually to visit my family in Mexico. Although, I have always wanted to go somewhere completely different from anything I have experienced before. I decided to, quite abruptly, apply to the London Winterim Program. I felt that a college experience would just not be complete unless one studies abroad while they have the opportunity to and I also really wanted to experience being in another continent.

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Hello University of Iowa students thinking about studying abroad! Last year, around this time, I was looking into studying abroad just like you! This experience has changed my life. I saw my textbooks come to life, met amazing people, and, above all, found myself.

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UI student in Cinque Terre
Kali Slaymaker is a first-generation college student who will earn her degree in marketing from the University of Iowa in 2016 after just three years of study. Kali was a 2015 recipient of the Diversity Ambassador Scholarship for Study Abroad which she applied toward a summer program with CIMBA in Paderno Del Grappa, Italy during summer 2015. The following is a reflection by Kali on her time abroad.

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If you are reading this letter, you may be pondering the idea of studying abroad and trying to decide whether it is something you should do. As a senior in my last year in the College of Education, I debated the idea for many reasons, but the biggest one being the cost. See, my original goal coming out of high school and soon to be first generation college student was to go to college and excel in my academics in order to achieve greatness, but never was it in my plan to study abroad.

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Jade in front of the Great Wall of China
My name is Jade Manternach, and I am a Senior Entrepreneurial Management major in the Tippie College of Business. I am a first generation student, and I am solely responsible for paying for my college education. I was determined to study abroad while I was at The University of Iowa, and last year I applied for every scholarship I was eligible for. Through University of Iowa scholarships, I was able to get almost 60% of my study abroad experience in Beijing and Shanghai funded!

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Shan Shan Huang in London
One of my biggest dreams is to walk outside of my little world and experience the diverse environment and culture that is unknown to me. A three week trip to study business in London caught my eye. It would be a very good opportunity for me as a first generation student. I was really excited and looked forward to the chance to study abroad in London.

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vanessa ginther in mexico
My name is Vannessa Ginther, and I am a first generation college student and a Native American. I studied abroad in Guanajuato, Mexico in summer 2014. It was an experience I will never forget. I learned so much about Mexican culture, language and myself.

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