Five women made history at commencement this semester – they were the first in the university’s history to graduate with a Global Learning Medallion.
“It’s so cool because I’m going to be one of the few with the medallion,” said Ashleigh Douglas, 23, who graduated with a bachelor’s in interdisciplinary studies. “It’s very special. I’m a cheerleader and I’m obsessed with glitter. This is my graduation sparkle.”
The medallion serves as an extra honor for students who go above and beyond the two-course Global Learning requirement. Medallion recipients have taken part in an extensive study of foreign languages, traveled abroad to complete a service project and even interned in U.S. embassies or with legislators in Washington, D.C.
The other Global Learning Medallion recipients are: Lorraine Apolis, Francesca Bocarossi, Raquel Decaso and Carla Santamaria.
For Apolis, Douglas and Santamaria, the medallion served as a way for them to dig deeper into their existing interest in global and international affairs.
The Tuesday Times Roundtables, weekly campus discussions on trending topics in the news, always served as eye-openers for Douglas, who was enthralled by discussions featuring the PeaceCorps and UNICEF.
“We have to realize how we can use our education to help others,” she said.
Apolis, 21, saw firsthand how she could make a difference working in the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines, helping people with immigration issues in the consular section. She also traveled throughout Southeast Asia during a study abroad opportunity.
“Cambodia and Vietnam are not countries most people visit,” said Apolis, who graduated with a bachelor’s in international relations. “We saw the places where the Cambodian genocide took place and battlefields from the Vietnam War. These places leave you speechless.”
Santamaria also had eye opening experiences abroad while visiting people who live in Ecuador’s rainforests.
“I realized I had a Western perspective – let’s save the rainforest – without taking into account the perspective and needs of the people who live there,” she said. “This study abroad helped me to expand my views and see an issue from someone else’s perspective.”
But where the experience truly made its mark on Santamaria, who graduated with a bachelor’s in sociology, was in requiring her to spend more time on campus taking part in activities that she loved.
“Overall, it has been an enriching experience,” she said. “I had to scramble and change my work schedule to earn all the points and to take part in the activities, but it was all worth it.”
Apolis agreed. The Global Learning experiences not only will help her pursue a career in foreign service, but earning the medallion is also a sign to her family that all their sacrifices were worthwhile.
“Graduation is not just for me. It’s for my family,” she said. “Anything I have on me that helps me stand out among others is for them. I want them to see they raised me well so the medallion is a great addition.”
To learn more about earning the Global Learning Medallion, click here.