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For Immediate Release:   5/11/2011   

Studying Abroad Shapes Seniors’ Career Plans

Providence, R.I. -- At Providence College, students are encouraged to bolster their undergraduate experience, broaden their perspectives, and become global citizens through studying abroad.

This academic year, 163 students nurtured their PC education and lives by studying in 21 countries.

As PC prepares to celebrate the conclusion of another academic year with Commencement Exercises on May 15, its focus is fixed on the Class of 2011. The following seniors are a small sampling of the class members who say their transformative international experiences have directly inspired their career plans and prepared them for their professional pursuits.

Sonia Penso '11 (Woonsocket, R.I.), a double major in global studies and Spanish and a minor in Latin American studies, will join the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC) for a year of service after graduation. Through the JVC, Penso will work as a case manager at Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, a non-profit organization that has become a national model for assisting at-risk, formerly gang-involved, or incarcerated youth to become thriving, contributing members of society. The agency's free services include counseling, education, tattoo removal, job training, and placement. penso.jpg

Penso spent her junior year studying abroad in two countries--Nicaragua (fall 2009) and Argentina (spring 2010)--through the School for International Training Study Abroad program. The opportunities and challenges she met in these countries helped define one of the most personally and academically rewarding periods of her life, directly leading her to the work she will do at Homeboy Industries.

"My experiences in Nicaragua and Argentina really solidified my passion to work with gang-affiliated youth, who moved me with their powerful stories of exclusion, lack of opportunities, and stigmatization. I want to continue to learn about the causes of youth violence and the best methods of prevention, intervention, and rehabilitation for these individuals who are often marginalized," she said.

During her years at PC, Penso participated in Habitat for Humanity and Alternative Spring Break trips. She also volunteered for several non-profit organizations in Providence, including English for Action!, Youth Pride, Inc., and the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence.

Peter Van Name '11 (Stamford, Conn.), a political science major, plans to attend law school--a dream that was inspired through his semester spent studying in Barcelona, Spain. Van Name purposely chose a country where English was not the native language because of the challenge that a true immersion experience would provide him. vanname.jpg

"Studying abroad gave me the chance to experience a foreign culture and way of life first-hand," he said. "It is one thing to read about another country in a textbook, but to have an opportunity to live in their cities, walk in their streets, taste their food and drinks, and meet their people provides an invaluable educational experience."

Van Name cites his semester abroad as enabling him to develop the abilities that are vital for success in his future career.

"Being in Spain allowed me not only to learn about the Spanish people but also to learn about myself," Van Name said. "I was able to question, observe, analyze, and interpret many different situations, which helped me to decide to pursue a law career and will most certainly help me down the road."

Van Name also capitalized on opportunities to develop his leadership skills during his time campus. A four-year member of the sailing team, he served as vice-commodore as a senior. He served on Student Congress for three years and was the chair of the Committee on Student Life. Additionally, he was member of the Pi Sigma Alpha honor society for political science.

MaryBethWallace.jpgMary Beth Wallace '11 (North Attleboro, Mass.), a quantitative economics major, will be working as a portfolio operations associate for Sankaty Advisors in Boston, the fixed-income and credit affiliate of Bain Capital. In this role, she will track and process the activity of various funds and investments that are a part of Sankaty Advisors investment portfolios.

Wallace spent a year abroad at the London School of Economics--whose notable alumni include John F. Kennedy and David Rockefeller. The year-long classes in her General Course program provided an in-depth view of the theories and applications of economics, which she credits as giving her a distinct advantage when applying for jobs.

"My study abroad experience truly transformed me into an independent, self-confident individual," she said. "The rigorous academic program at the London School of Economics taught me how to think like a true economist. This, paired with the liberal arts education I have received at PC, created a skill-set that Sankaty Advisors was seeking in an employee."

As early as her freshman year, Wallace had her sights set on participating in the London School of Economics program and worked towards that goal. Aside from her academic program, she participated in the Economics Club and served as an Economics Department tutor.

"As soon I was accepted into the yearlong program at the London School of Economics, I knew it was an opportunity and investment in my future that I could not pass up, and it has already paid off," Wallace said.


​Chrissy Centazzo
Public Affairs and Community Relations Coordinator
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