I love engaging with new cultures, whether that means working with marginalized teen moms in Ecuador, studying diplomacy in Chile, or observing a matriarchal village in the Amazon. In high school I volunteered in a remote village in Honduras — translating for a makeshift clinic, teaching hygiene, and other community development projects. There was a moment when the village kids and I all bumped into each other as we tried to do cartwheels, and we fell to the ground laughing. For some reason this moment clarified that I wanted to dedicate my studies to something that would bring me back to communities and cultures like this one.
The language curriculum in ALIS emphasizes technical communication, industry, media, and science as much as traditional language study. We each choose a language track and a parallel, interdisciplinary concentration. For example, I study Spanish and International Affairs, because my career goals focus on Latin America. Someone interested in technology development may opt for Chinese and Computer Science, or someone interested in international business might combine German and Business Administration. My dream career would be to work for Smithsonian Global, the international extension of the Smithsonian Institution. I would love to contribute to their world-wide projects on science, culture, and public engagement.
Liberal arts majors at Georgia Tech have the small community feel, but still get the whole experience of a bigger college. We have small classes and personal relationships with our classmates mixed with rambunctious football games and a wealth of team spirit. Our biggest strength on campus is that liberal arts students at Georgia Tech are pros at advocating humanities in the STEM-based world. In the work force, we have a very technical background compared to liberal arts majors elsewhere.
A favorite class was “Science and Technology in the Hispanic World” with Dr. Cleger. In this Spanish class we explored smart cities in Spain and Latin America. We collaborated on innovative ways for cities with limited resources to use information and communication technology to streamline city infrastructure. Dr. Cleger also teaches the Spanish composition class that whipped my writing skills into shape. I was deeply thankful for the constructive criticism from this class when it came time to write term papers and analytical briefings in Spanish during my semester in Chile. Great professors from every corner of Georgia Tech push their students to go far.
Dr. Paty encouraged me, an ALIS major, to join her honors class on the “History of Space Exploration” in order to add a liberal arts perspective to the course. I admire Dr. Paty for the way she claims her identity as a woman in the aerospace and planetary fields. She shared stories of being one of the few women in some labs and of having to navigate the male-dominated social climates that come with that. Her willingness to focus a whole unit of the class on gender equality in aerospace was refreshing. If you get a chance to meet her, ask about her work on NASA’s Mission to Europa!
I live for the moments that make me pause and laugh at how I got there. This collection of stories includes being left behind at the Cliffs of Moher, being taught how to plow potatoes by a family in the Peruvian Andes, and being swept into the very middle of a former president’s funeral procession in Chile. When you put yourself out there, a lot of crazy things can happen. I think my autobiography would be titled “Expanding My Horizons...One Misadventure at a Time.”
My experiences abroad reaffirm that ALIS was the perfect major for me. The Oxford program, an internship with Manna Project International in Ecuador, and a semester exchange in Chile revolutionized my education. Being a tourist is not enough. Immersion is the key to a full experience. Adapt to the community around you; don’t try to make it adapt to you. Interning abroad confirmed that ALIS is providing the right path for me, and studying in Chile on my own taught me independence in a foreign country.
By nature of our small liberal arts community, you have the opportunity to be an advocate for the impact your field makes. Claim your identity as an Ivan Allen student and use it as a platform to promote your passion. You are taking the road less traveled by, and that will make all the difference.
For questions about featured students, photography, or to recommend a new undergraduate profile, contact Elizabeth Miller.