|Taylor in Barcelona, Spain|
“I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it” – Rosalia De Castro.
If you asked me five years ago where I saw myself today, I would have told you that I would be graduating from college with a degree in Religious Studies and someday work for a local non-profit. I did start at Iowa State University as a Religious Studies major and I declared a secondary major in International Studies shortly after starting at ISU. I always had an interest in travel and participated in a study program in Australia in high school, but I never saw it being anything more than that. Well, let me tell you what actually happened.
As part of my International Studies program, it was required to have a study abroad experience and some language acquisition. I was afraid of missing a full semester at ISU so I enrolled in a short program in Florence, Italy. While in Italy, I fell in love; not with a person, but with a continent. The following year I enrolled in two summer programs with CEA; Alicante, Spain and Prague, Czech Republic. After the most amazing summer of my life of exploring new cities, making new friends, and stepping outside my comfort zone, I was hooked. I must have had 100 travel bugs bite me at once.
|Taylor at the ISU study abroad fair|
|Taylor (2nd from right) with fellow Ambassadors and Director of Univ. Outreach at the ISU study abroad fair|
I was obsessed with my experiences and decided to apply for the CEA Alumni Ambassador program after my Alicante Program Director, Alvaro, recommended it. It seemed like an awesome way to share my experiences and a chance to gain interpersonal skills. After a semester as an Alumni Ambassador and changing my major to Business, I took the opportunity to return to Alicante for a full semester. It was extremely impulsive and I didn’t even tell my mom I applied. I sent in the confirmation fee and it was set. At this point I thought I was crazy. Did I actually just do that? A fifth study abroad program? Like, who does that?
I had previously discussed with Alvaro that if I ever returned, he was interested in having an intern in the office with him. When I left for Alicante for the second time, I had a one-way ticket; not sure of when I was coming home or if I was staying longer for a potential internship. After a lot of hard work and support from everyone at CEA, I had the opportunity to participate in CEA’s first On-site Ambassadorship in Alicante. No words could describe how excited and grateful I was for such an amazing opportunity.
|Taylor with Alicante summer students, enjoying tapas|
Knowing that I am helping students' dreams of studying abroad come true while in the USA and actually facilitating their study abroad experience in Alicante felt incredibly rewarding. This program has truly changed my life and the career path I want to pursue. When I first applied to be an Alumni Ambassador, I never thought that I would have all of these opportunities to progress and grow. I’ve developed leadership, communication, intercultural, time management, and organizational skills that you just can’t advance in a classroom setting. The support I've received from the CEA Alumni Relations team has been unprecedented and I can never thank them enough for that.
|Taylor (center left) with Alicante Summer '14 students|
I recommend everyone who has the opportunity to apply for the Alumni Ambassador program at CEA. This program helps you reflect and articulate your study abroad experience and supplies the tools you need to market your new skills and competencies for future employment. Don’t miss out on an opportunity like this; you never know where it can take you! I promise you won’t regret it.
Apply to be an Alumni Ambassador today!
Taylor Stoeckler is a CEA alumna (Alicante Summer '13 & Spring '14 and Prague Summer '13) and an Alumni Ambassador at Iowa State University. She was the first On-site Ambassador in Alicante during Summer '14.
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