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Yesenia Ayala

IES Abroad Program: Santiago - Politics, Social Justice & Language, Spring 2017
U.S. College / University: Grinnell College
Major: Sociology & Spanish 
Current Profession: "I am currently completing my summer fellowship with the Truman Foundation as the California Truman Public Service Scholar. I then will start my one-year fellowship with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute."

What words would you use to describe your identity(ies)? 
First generation, college-educated Latina.

Has studying and interning abroad impacted your educational and/or professional aspirations or path? If so, how?
I want to change the world. I think that is possible through education, and studying abroad in Santiago with IES Abroad has given me the opportunity to work with marginalized communities, and through education, I have personally seen the impact it can have.

In one sentence, tell students who identify similarly why interning abroad is a good idea, particularly for them. 
Do it. Honestly, being abroad opens your horizons, challenges you to get out of your comfort zone, and makes you conscious of the importance of multicultural experience even as a person of color. I know that money might be an issue, but look for scholarships, as there is a lot of money out there for students of color to go abroad. It may feel like a risk, but honestly do it, it’s worth it. I can say the experience can be life-changing.

Want to read more about Yesenia?  Check out her interview about what its like to be a First-Generation Student Abroad


We're celebrating a #worldofdifference by sharing inspiring stories of our students from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, members of the LGBTQ+ community, first-generation college students, young adults with a history of overcoming diversity, and more.

"It may feel like a risk, but honestly do it, it’s worth it. I can say the experience can be life-changing."

Build a World of Difference With Us

When students see themselves reflected in others who have already traveled places they’ve only dreamed about, they’re more likely to realize what’s possible no matter their identity or circumstances. Your story could make a world of difference for them.