Santa Clara University


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Alum of the Week


Greg Bertleff

Technical Recruiter at Facebook

Studying at the Casa affected me in many ways, all of which were positive and helped me become a better person. The Casa pushed me outside my comfort zone, which gave me confidence to do keep doing so long after I left San Salvador; it made me think critically about the world around me in a way that was different from classroom learning; and most importantly, it instilled a sense of empathy that I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else.

As your average suburbanite from Ohio, I went to Boston College to live in a big city and get out of the Midwest. I studied history and international studies at BC, and during my sophomore year I went to Haiti on a service trip. This trip was the culmination of months of preparation, and in hindsight it played a major role in my decision to study at the Casa. The trip to Haiti was so short, which made me really want to be immerse myself in the culture and country I would study abroad in…and the Casa presented the best opportunity to do that. After studying at the Casa and graduating from BC, I worked as an immigration paralegal and decided to pursue international relations in graduate school. I got a master’s degree from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and moved to NYC to follow my then girlfriend, now wife.

Moving to NYC in 2010 was a humbling experience, as the job market was tough. However, I was lucky enough to get a contract role with Google on their recruiting team. It was my first experience in the private sector, and it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be…in fact, it was the opposite of bad. I now work at Facebook in NYC, staffing their engineering teams and building out our East Coast hub. My life in NYC and work that I’m doing is very different from my praxis site in San Ramon and life in El Salvador, but each have been fulfilling in different ways.

I would recommend the Casa for many reasons: the academic rigor, the praxis work, the immersion in local communities, and the lifelong friendships that come out of your time in El Salvador. But to me, the best reason to study at the Casa is the way it teaches you to empathize with others and to move outside your comfort zone.

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