The Places UGRAD can Take You! – Mongolia

UGRADJargalmaa Erdenemandakh, a 2011-2012 UGRAD student from Mongolia, shares transformative events in her life after the Global UGRAD program.

The Department of State’s undergraduate scholarship (UGRAD) administered by World Learning was a stepping stone in my academic and professional career.  I spent one wonderful exchange year at the  University of Minnesota (UMN) followed by the continuation of my adventure in the U.S. here in my home country.


After completing the UGRAD program, I interned at the U.S. Embassy in Mongolia. I Mongolian Alum 2had a blast working on projects concerning my fellow Mongolian UGRADs and other State Department scholars like those participating in the Fulbright, Fulbright TA, SUSI, IVLP, Humphrey, ESL and Access programs. I also helped organize the U.S. Embassy’s first-ever celebration of Independence day, during which we, as Mongolian alumni, raised awareness for the AEIF project that we won from the Department of State the previous year.

Mongolian Alum with ClintonThe highlight of my internship was former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Mongolia. I was even able to take a picture with her!

I transferred to University of Minnesota and completed my degree in Global Studies with a minor in German. Writing my thesis was one of the most difficult things that I have done in my  life, but it was very rewarding to find out that I was only one of three graduates that year that received summa cum laude honors!

Mongolian AlumDuring my studies at UMN I was able to conduct various research projects and worked as a Teaching Assistant at the Slavic languages department, teaching and grading four classes of nearly 80 students in total. I have been a board member and the Vice President of Minnesota’s Students’ Cooperative for nearly two years, managing 50 international students – most of whom were doctorate students. I really enjoyed working in the U.S. and have grown into a mature independent woman.

The highlight of 2014, my last year at University of Minnesota, was the visit of  the Open Society Foundations’ delegation consisting of government officials and representatives of NGOs. The delegation came to Minnesota to discuss the disability services of our state and explore the options for reforming disability services in Mongolian high schools and universities. I was so excited to be the project assistant for this endeavor and help create a bridge between Americans and Mongolians.

Mongolian Alum 3

I came back to Mongolia this August to implement the AEIF project entitled, “Right decision, Bright Future” that will help serve educational needs in Mongolia. I am also looking forward for starting my career and contributing to my home country.

I will forever be indebted to the American government, my World Learning mentors (Jessica Mead, Sanjay Iyer, Thomas Bruey) and University of Minnesota’s International Students’ Office (ISSS) for helping fund my studies and support me unconditionally throughout my journey. I couldn’t have had such a fulfilling undergraduate life if it wasn’t for the awesome UGRAD program.

Once a UGRAD, always a UGRAD!


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