Oh, the Places They Go...
The courage and sense of adventure of WAEF students is just one of the many ways they impress us and stand out. For a high number of our students, courage is exemplified by taking that significant first step to be the first in their family to attend college. For others, they've watched their siblings attend college and their spirit of adventure takes them far from home.
Erika Arias is a fourth-year WAEF student and has taken full advantage of her time in college to explore and grow through study abroad courses and international work. While we weren't able to catch in person (her two-day gap between work in Mexico and the beginning of school in Italy was just too brief 😊), she did catch up through an email recently.
Please tell us about you and your siblings. How did your older siblings impact your decision to attend college? What about the reverse, how do you believe your education choices are impacting others?
I am the third Husky in my family and a 2015 Chelan graduate. I have two older brothers (Abel and Abraham) and an older sister (Zoraida) who have all gone on to get either their bachelors or master's degrees (UT Austin, Columbia University, CWU). Seeing all of my siblings pursue higher education and achieve amazing things in life inspired me to do the same. At UW, I am a mentor to several students and teach my own First-year Interest Group course which teaches first year students how to navigate UW and make the most of their time. Through this, I hope to have the same impact my siblings had on me on others.
How have your experiences influenced your degree path and plans for the future?
Going into UW, I wanted at do international business, but after taking a few intro business classes and a political science class I realized I was much more passionate about policies and laws. I then worked towards being accepted into both of my majors International Studies and Law, Societies & Justice. The connections I have made have been instrumental in guiding me towards the path that I am taking. The study abroad programs I have taken part in have helped me see different parts of the world and expand my thinking. My career plan is to graduate this year with my bachelors and go on to graduate school.
As a college student and an intern, what countries have you visited and what were your key observations about some or each of the countries and international travel in general?
I have been fortunate enough to study abroad in Spain (twice), Japan, France, China and Italy. I have also been able to intern for the Mexican government. There is definitely a culture shock that comes along with visiting all of these countries, but also an appreciation for my own culture and where I come from. Recently during my internship in Mexico, I was able to buy some Manson apples! I always get excited when I see that the apples being sold in markets/stores are the ones produced at home.
Is there a downside to study abroad that you've experienced?
A downside to traveling or just being active on campus that I've experience has been that I am not able to go home as often as I'd like to.
How did you secure the internship you recently completing in Mexico?
I received an email from one of my professors recommending the internship with the CDI branch of the Mexican government, I then applied and went through an interview process. Thankfully, I was selected to be an intern and recently got back from a once in a lifetime experience in Oaxaca, Mexico.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
In five years, I see myself in graduate school pursuing my PhD.
Thank you for making opportunities like this possible for WAEF students!
They are an exceptional bunch of men and women and the financial support and encouragement they receive from WAEF donors turns big dreams into reality.