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Meet 2006 UWM International Studies Graduate Andrew Lange
Looking back on the opportunities I was able to take advantage of in the International Development track of the International Studies Major and Spanish Minor at UWM, it is evident to me that that program allowed me to recognize and develop my passion for human rights work, and subsequent employment with United Nations agencies.
The single most influential parts of my undergraduate program were hands-down the two semesters abroad; first to Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland, and second, to Colima, Mexico.
During my time in Northern Ireland, I was moved by the reality of ethnic conflict that the Irish Catholics and British Protestants were forced to survive. The "troubles" were omnipresent, from neighborhoods with curbs painted the colors of their respective flag, to segregation everywhere from schools to the pubs. Throughout the semester I observed slow or rather failed attempts at political power-sharing as elections for the Northern Ireland parliament were delayed time and again. Yet at the same time, I was charmed by my new Irish friends and impressed by their ability to speak about human rights, peace and reconciliation, from such a personal perspective. Although I didn't always understand what they were saying through their accents, they taught me a lot and inspired me to see what I could do to progress human rights where it was needed.
After Ireland I was off to Colima, Mexico with a generous U.S. Dept. of Education FIPSE scholarship that the UWM CIE Office had competitively acquired - THANKS UWM!!! In Mexico, I continued my pursuit of human rights and worked on cases of police brutality for a state human rights commission. This opportunity also opened my eyes to other human rights issues throughout Latin America and provided me practical experience with the Spanish language.
I hold both of these experiences as well as my education at UWM near and dear to my heart. They provided the foundation that took me from Milwaukee, to later receiving graduate degrees in Costa Rica and Chile (thanks to scholarships from the Milwaukee Rotary Club and the Organization of American States), as well as exciting human rights work for the International Labour Organization in Switzerland and currently, at the World Bank in Washington, DC.
Whenever anyone asks me where I got my start, I'm always happy to tell them about UWM.
Meet 2008 UWM Global Studies-Communication Graduate Christine Brownfield
After graduating from UWM with my degree in Global Studies-Communications, I was ready to take off again. I say "again" because my degree gave me the chance to spend a summer studying in Paris and a semester in Milan, firmly instilling the travel bug in me. Having always been interested in fashion, I took those opportunities abroad to attend as many fashion shows as possible and intern for an Italian fashion designer. While it wasn't the typical path of many GS students, the degree allowed me to pursue my global dreams the way in which I imagined.
After graduation, I moved to New York City and began working for a fashion photography agency. Eventually this job took me to Paris, where I currently live. The path to get here, however, has been winding, and has included stops in Nicaragua, Uganda, the UAE, Lebanon, and even Iceland. I developed a curiosity for seeing the world and interacting with different cultures and people.
In 2012, I decided to quit my job as a producer/ jr. agent and go back to school. People always ask how I made the leap from fashion to diplomacy and international relations, the subject of my master's degree, and I explain that for me the two are really not so different. GS showed me how international relations exists not only in public service and politics, but in simple interactions and communications with people from all over the world. It doesn't really matter if you're talking about a photograph from Vogue or a document on sustainable development, at the most basic level it comes down to people communicating through different mediums and from varying points of view (let me be clear that I?m not suggesting a fashion photo is more significant than sustainable development).
In the course of my masters, I worked as the political assistant to a Ugandan member of parliament, and spent three months traveling between Kampala and Gulu, Uganda. I recall, while at UWM, seeing the documentary Invisible Children, and it was surreal to spend time with the people and in the location affected by the LRA war.
As I am preparing to reenter the work force, my time is also devoted to an NGO I am helping launch in Paris, called HERA France. The objective is to provide victims of domestic violence with entrepreneurship training to help them reenter the workforce, and create a level of autonomy around their lives.
It's amazing to look back and think about the adventures I've had, in so many corners of the world and many of these adventures started when I decided to follow the Global Studies-Communications degree.
Meet 2012 UWM Global Security Graduate Bryce Bray
I graduated with a degree in Global Studies-Security in 2012 after having completed my study abroad semester and an internship in food and environmental security while in Chile. I didn't spend five years of my life studying about the world and learning several languages to catch a flight back to Wisconsin. It was my duty to travel and continue learning while experiencing all of the places and peoples I had studied as an undergraduate. It only made sense to make my way home while hopping from one country to another.
Fortunately, financial problems during my last semester had already forced me to find a way to make money while abroad, leading to my accidental career as a freelance translator. In hindsight, being broke was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. By the time my trip began, I was already receiving work from clients located all over the world. I don't believe in signs but when I received a project that consisted in translating a Latin American backpacking guide from German to English while backpacking, I knew I had found my profession.
The new source of income allowed me to move from one country to another, meeting very interesting people and making life-changing experiences along the way. It was the best thing I have ever done with my life. I hiked through a forest of gigantic ferns the size of trees, rafted through a river in the Andes in Peru, ate the most delicious food imaginable in Ecuador, walked for hours through valleys of coffee in Colombia, climbed a volcano from midnight to dawn in Panama to see both the Caribbean and Pacific from its summit, swam and hiked through a canyon in Nicaragua, diving into the water from cliffs, saw coral reefs in the Caribbean and worked on a reforestation project in Guatemala. I also got food poisoning several times, had terrible altitude sickness and was robbed. By the time my trip was over, I had lost thirty pounds, learned to live with very few possessions and gained a very different perspective on what life is and the adventure that we can make of it. You don't have to backpack through Latin America to experience this. Wisconsin has rivers to canoe, trails to explore and history to learn.
While on the road, I tested into UW-Milwaukee's MALLT program to study Spanish-to-English translation. I have just completed the second semester of the program while living in Brazil and have become much more realistic about translation and the effort and investment that it entails. The MALLT program has helped me acquire useful knowledge and skills to further myself as a professional.
Meet 2008 UWM Global Studies-Management Graduate Nora Joy Wilson
Each year I buy a pair of hundred-dollar sneakers. This past year they were the Nike Lunaracer 3's. The shoes are my rare, but persistent splurge. Before I bought them, I stood at length admiring the display as I considered where they would take me in the upcoming year. Looking at them now with holes on the top and a sole worn so thin you can nearly see my feet, the tinge of guilt I felt while handing over the hard-earned cash is a fleeting afterthought.
So where did they bring me this past year? Those Nikes have been weaving between wild blueberry bushes on the sides of the Balkan mountains, tiptoeing from room to gold-encrusted room of the Royal Castle in Warsaw, crossed under tables of steaming red snapper and Tom Yam Goong in Bangkok, meandering the allies of York Minster cathedral, and covered in red dust traipsing on horseback between Buddhist monasteries in Myanmar.
Please forgive how this all may sound and know that I come from a typical middle-class family in Wisconsin (Fort Atkinson to be precise, go Blackhawks!).
So what's different about me and those that dream about globetrotting but never seem to make it a reality? I could not have done it without being inspired by my peers at UWM. For the first time I was able to interact with other students passionate about cultures outside of the US and professors with valuable knowledge and world experience.
When I first read about the Global Studies program, I didn't know what I wanted to do, but I knew that I was yearning for an adventure. The Management Track business classes gave me the foundation to understand management fundamentals and define which fields I found most intriguing. The Global Studies classes gave me a well-rounded summary of essential issues of concern internationally. The required language classes convinced me that I could, in fact, express myself adequately outside my mother tongue.
My sophomore year I signed up for the study abroad program in Chile. Though I was nervous when I first landed in Santiago, it only took a few weeks to adjust since I had been adequately prepared by my advisor and preparatory classes. After I completed the semester, I felt fully equipped with the skills and courage to manage living abroad without the need for a formal program. This was a necessary piece of the puzzle and a jumping off point for the life that's followed.
My name is Nora and I am a Global Studies-Management graduate. Now if you'll excuse me, it's about time to buy another pair of shoes.
Nora Wilson currently resides in Shenzhen, China where she is the Creative Director of Unchained Apps.
Meet 2009 UWM Global Studies Graduate Justin Webb
I have always been interested in traveling and working for an international company but did not know how to make it a reality. My degree in Global Studies ? Management track, provided me with the foundation to pursue my dreams through international internships and study abroad opportunities. The experiences and knowledge I gained through this unique program at UW-Milwaukee has given me the necessary tools to seek an international career abroad.
My international journey began my junior year, when I left the country for the first time to take business classes at the Universidad de Sevilla in Spain. Global Studies students are required to complete an internship abroad, which is part of what made this degree so intriguing to me. After arriving in Spain, I went through a round of interviews with local companies in Seville. Eventually, I had the honor to be offered a marketing internship with Sevilla FC, which is one of the first division soccer teams in the city. I grew up playing and watching European soccer, so this truly was a rewarding experience for me.
After my study abroad program, I came back to Milwaukee to finish my degree. After graduation, I applied to be an English language assistant for one year through the CIE program. This was a chance for me to find my way back to Seville. Fortunately, I was able to continue my internship at the soccer club during the day, while teaching English classes at an adult language school in the evenings. Both of these experiences continued to help develop my international resume and prepare me for interviews when I returned to the States.
Before coming back to Milwaukee, I already knew I wanted to explore a career in the banking sector. I was really worried about finding work, because I wasn't sure how banking employers would perceive my resume, as I had no prior work experience in that sector. Luckily, I was able to explain to employers that my international experiences and acquired skills could be beneficial to their company. Within a few months, I was offered a position at US Bank in Milwaukee as a Cost Basis Tax Analyst. My job was to work closely with brokers and financial intermediaries to ensure they accurately complied with the IRS cost basis tax law.
The most important part of my international experience was finding love. While in Spain, I met a wonderful Belgian girl who happened to be studying there at the time. After one year of working at US bank and having a long-distance relationship, I decided to quit my job and head to Brussels, Belgium to be with her. I was very nervous about finding work, mostly because I didn't speak the language. However, after two months and only one job interview, I received a job offer from Euroclear Bank as a U.S. Tax Specialist.
The headquarters of the bank is in Brussels and English is the corporate language, because they employ working professionals from all over the world. I have been working as a U.S tax specialist for a little over two years, and my job is to ensure financial institutions and central banks holding U.S. securities (bonds and equities) in Euroclear accurately report and comply with the IRS. This position allows me to work in an international environment where I interact daily with financial institutions from all over the world.
Employers are always looking for that one thing that sets you apart from the next candidate. What I have learned in past interviews is that employers are not only looking for competent employees, but also for an intriguing story. No matter what path you take, look for those experiences that will enrich your personal and professional qualities to make you stand out. The Global Studies - Management track has provided me the pen to write my international story.
Courtney Nikolay (International Studies/2008) has always looked beyond the pages of her textbook to promote social justice through civically-engaged work. As an UWM student she took advantage of opportunities such as international internships and study abroad to broadenn her perspective through interactions with people from different cultures.
Her adventure began with a volunteer opportunity in New Zealand alongside indigenous M?ori, followed by a semester of studying Spanish language, literature, and culture in Seville, Spain. She spent the next summer in Dover, England teaching English as a foreign language to students from Japan and Spain. With an educational focus on Latin America and the Caribbean, she felt compelled to experience the region first-hand to understand its rich cultural diversity and the following year she was part of a delegation to Guatemala. She lived with a Mayan family and taught classes to indigenous youth about human rights. She wanted to share her transformative experiences with other students on campus and upon her return to UWM, she worked as a Study Abroad Peer Advisor at the Center for International Education at UWM. Courtney credits her experiences at UW-Milwaukee, especially through the International Studies major, in positively shaping her career goals and her values of open-mindedness, care for others, and striving to be a global citizen.
Since graduating in 2008, she has traveled on her own throughout Mexico and Costa Rica to learn about ecotourism and enhance her Spanish-language skills. In 2012, she graduated with a Master of Education in College Student Services Administration from Oregon State University and currently works as the Assistant Director of the Service Learning Program at Marquette University.