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French Riviera Engineering Alumni Spotlight: Jonathan DeMarco

Major: Civil and environmental engineering
University: University of Massachusetts - Amherst
Study abroad location: French Riviera, France
Term abroad: Spring 2018
Year: Senior
Extracurricular activities: Engineers Without Borders

My name is Jonathan DeMarco, and I am a senior civil and environmental engineering major studying at UMass Amherst. My passions lie in providing clean drinking water to those who need it most. I am directly involved with the UMass chapter of Engineers Without Borders, a club in which we implement water solutions in communities in Africa who lack access to a safe and reliable water source. Beyond this, I enjoy working with the UMass Office of Student Affairs, CEA Alumni Ambassador program, and the International Programs Office to hold advising and information sessions for engineers interested in studying abroad. I help to assist those to have the same great experience I had with CEA, in a major where studying abroad is often discouraged due to the rigor of the curriculum. Outside of school, I enjoy spending time with friends and family while traveling as much as I can.


I chose to study abroad in the French Riviera with CEA during my sophomore year for many reasons. At many schools across the U.S., there are limited locations where engineering majors can study abroad, so when I heard about CEA’s option to study in the "Silicon Valley" equivalent of France, I immediately jumped. Not only did they offer the engineering and math courses I needed to advance in my curriculum, but there were a variety of fantastic, cultural gen-ed courses that really added to my experience. The location was perfect and the schooling was great, with small class sizes and involved professors. Beyond the classroom, CEA took care of everything for me. My housing was pristine, and all arranged prior to my arrival. The excursions were plentiful and very enjoyable, and the on-site direction, Kristen, was available to me 24/7 for any questions I might have had. Before arriving, I was slightly hesitant that the classes might not be adequate for learning all the information required, but my fears were immediately calmed after my first day of classes. The teaching was great and the learning easy. Studying abroad in France was truly life-changing, and ignited my love for travel, culture and my career path in the environmental industry. My advice to any engineer out there who is thinking about studying abroad is that it is the best decision you can possibly make, as you will learn all you need to know about engineering, on top of unmatchable life skills and independence. I cannot recommend it highly enough!


My typical day in Antibes, France is as follows. I would wake up in my one-bedroom apartment with my one roommate and catch my bus to class, of which I had two a day for three hours each, three days a week. Class would be long but informative. On my way home, I would stop at the market to get whatever food I needed for the night’s dinner, and spend the evening with friends I met in my program. Due to the extended weekends, I would travel to a new destination nearly each week, which was the highlight of my time abroad. I learned so much about the French culture as well as many other locations across Europe. I feel so grateful to have had such an amazing and fortunate experience. Studying abroad has made me a more independent, confident, intelligent, and socio-culturally aware person, and I recommend it without hesitation to all engineers.

Jonathan DeMarco is a CEA Alumni Ambassador who studied abroad in the French Riviera, France, during the Spring 2018 semester. He is currently a student at the University of Massachusetts. 

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