Santa Clara University

Kara Coughlin '12

Peer Advisor: Solidarity Programs Coordinator

 Why do you want to serve as an International Ambassador at Santa Clara University?

I found that before I studied abroad meeting with former students was really helpful in preparing me. Now that Im back and had a fabulous experience I want to share it and help other students get excited for their own programs. It was very comforting to have someone there to ask questions of before going abroad, someone who could explain that things function differently but that you figure it out very quickly. I really enjoyed my study abroad and I want to help other students get ready for their experiences.
What were the deciding factors in choosing your study abroad program-location?
I chose Burkina Faso because it was an adventure. It is French speaking and I have a French minor, but it was also off the beaten track and an opportunity to learn while doing something good for the community. I didnt just want to be a tourist, I wanted to be involved in a community.
Describe a defining moment in your abroad experiences and how that experience(s) has affected you personally, intellectually, vocational, spiritually, or academically.
While abroad I got really sick with typhoid fever and had to leave the rural area that I was in and go back to the capital city for medical treatment. Seeing all of the concerned villagers wishing me well and really feeling a part of the community as I left and then again when I returned gave me a certain clarity that I had never had before. It made me really realize that people live in other parts of the world and in extreme poverty everyday and that just because I wasnt there everyday didnt mean that their lives stopped. As a public health major, my illness also made me angry because it made me realize that there is very little attention paid to third world diseases and that it is my responsibility as an educated person to change that.