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From Studying Abroad in London to Pursuing a Career at a Special Needs Nonprofit

April 12, 2021
by CEA CAPA Content Creator

I think it started with the summer of 2010 and my experience with People to People’s Student Travel Program. I spent 19 days traveling throughout 6 different countries with a group of high school students the summer before my senior year of high school. This experience left me with not only unforgettable memories but also with a desire to travel more and continue to learn more about other cultures.

 Me in London in high school (2010)


Fast forward to 2014, and I’m a junior at Mount Saint Mary’s University applying to study abroad in London at the University of Westminster for the fall semester. CEA had also started their pilot MOJO program (Mobile Journalist) and I applied to be a MOJO Photographer. It would give me the opportunity to document my life as an international student and my personal travels throughout Europe for 3 months.

Me in London studying abroad with CEA in 2014 


Let’s not forget about the school part! I took 4 courses at the University of Westminster, including art, history, political science, and sociology. I befriended local students, as well as other international students. I was oddly surprised to find out how diverse the classrooms were, with British and other international students in all of them. I also lived in a student residence hall located at the Marylebone campus. The busy Baker Street station was right across the street and I was a short walk away from Regent’s Park. There were so many times I thought to myself, “I can’t believe this is my life!” Whenever I share my stories with others, it brings that overwhelming feeling all over again. I know I left London with more than I came with.

 Visiting an art gallery for class in London


I often get asked how it is that I chose my career path. I had volunteer experiences starting in middle school through the start of college with children of special abilities, and I knew that’s where I saw myself. Seeing the smiles on their faces and how much I enjoyed working with this special group made it clear to me. I interned at a nonprofit organization that serves individuals with developmental disabilities the summer of 2014 right before I studied abroad and knew that was where I wanted to work following graduation. I came home from studying abroad and jumped right into grad school applications, specifically for social work. I kept in touch with my internship supervisor and was offered a paid intern position within a few weeks of graduating. It felt like it was all coming together.

 View from my dorm room in London


I was able to work part-time while completing my Master of Social Work from the University of Southern California in 3 years; I graduated in May of 2018. I’ve been at this nonprofit for almost 6 years now having worked in 2 programs, both with families with young children providing resources and coordinating much needed services. It continues to be something I’m passionate about and I look forward to opportunities for growth within this field of work. Although my study abroad experience may not seem to be related to my career path, I think otherwise; both are examples of me pursuing something I’m passionate about and being so grateful for the opportunity to do so.

Jazmin Sanchez is a CEA alum who studied abroad in London, England, during the Fall 2014 semester. She is a graduate of Mount Saint Mary's University and the University of Southern California.

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