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‘Study abroad made me a global citizen’ – News Center

Monday, Apr 25, 2022
• Devynn Case :

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Frankie Villarreal

Frankie Villarreal (’17 BS, Electrical Engineering) wasn’t sure what career path to pursue as he worked toward his degree in electrical engineering. Then a summer in Iceland studying renewable energy, technology and resource economics shifted his perspective on career possibilities.

“Afterwards, I attained an internship and soon after that was also offered a job,” Villarreal said. “It really opened my eyes personally and professionally opened so many doors for me.”

The Office of International Education (OIE) offers study abroad programs on just about every continent on the globe; countries visited include the United Kingdom, France, Mexico, Chile, Tanzania, Japan, New Zealand and many more. The experience is open to students of any classification and major, but it has been especially popular with those from business, engineering, nursing, liberal arts and architecture.

Study abroad experiences can last for short terms or for an entire academic year, and programs often cost similar to or less than a typical semester at UTA. UTA Study Abroad staff can help Mavericks identify programs, assist with the application process and answer questions about financial aid, scholarships and interacting with new cultures. The Maverick Advantage Passport Grant can even help eligible students obtain their first U.S. passport for free.

Blaize LaFleur completed her study abroad experience this past January in Italy, where she focused on studying religions.

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Blaize LaFleur

“After studying abroad, I felt that I learned so much about the world, but also myself,” said LaFleur, UTA senior studying political science. “I pushed myself to work with people I didn’t know, navigate a city where I didn’t speak the language, and learn the cultural nuances of a place I was unfamiliar with. It made me more of a global citizen, and those skills are advantageous in any field.”

Studying abroad with OIE gives UTA students an opportunity to learn through transformative and immersive global experiences. Mavericks who study abroad gain skills in interacting effectively with diverse cultures and populations and adapting to new situations, giving them a competitive edge in employment and academic studies.

“Anyone can study abroad—the possibilities for these life-changing experiences are endless,” said UTA Study Abroad Director Kelli Anderson. “We can help Mavericks from all kinds of backgrounds and majors find a program that is challenging, innovative and fits their interests and needs.”

Kay Stanford, UTA senior majoring in sociology and minoring in French, plans to spend the 2022-23 academic year in Ireland at the University of Limerick.

“One class I’m looking forward to is the ‘Sociology of Globalization,’” said Stanford. “I really hope to be able to travel a bit while I’m there too.”

Villarreal now works for Oncor in transmission planning and said he owes his career to studying abroad in Iceland, where he gained renewable energy field experiences at power plants, volcanoes, glaciers, rivers and waterfalls.

“There are countless lessons I learned about the engineering process and how different systems and techniques are implemented,” Villareal said. “It was a massive benefit to my professional development as an engineer.”