From Where I Stand

For some it has been seven months. For others it has been a year or more. No matter how long ago they wrapped up their experiences, UGRAD Alumni are part of a dynamic network of leaders who impacted their communities in the United States and continue to make a difference back home.

Jhesset Thrina Enano, PhilippinesJhesset
I am now finishing my last semester as an undergraduate student in the University of the Philippines, where I study Journalism. I spend most of my time working on my final requirement, my thesis on the accessibility of the university to persons with disabilities. This topic blossomed in my mind when I studied for a year in the University of Mississippi as a Global UGRAD. During my program, I wrote a story on the presence of students with disabilities in the campus for the college paper and I saw how higher education can be more accessible to everyone, regardless of capacities and backgrounds. Aside from this, I am currently learning about the life and works of our national hero Jose Rizal, whose works serve as inspiration to serve my nation. I am also passionate about photography, so I make sure to make photographs as often as I can!

Ksenija Komljenovic, SerbiaKs
Pacing the colorful Miami pavement on my way to the rehearsal studio. These feet are running around the University of Miami, in pursuit of a Doctorate in Musical Arts. If such a thing happens, I might just become the first woman from Serbia to get a doctorate in Percussion! Thank you, UGRAD, for allowing me to understand my potential!

Feriel, Algeria
I am taking advantage of my exchange experience to help other Algerian students study abroad either to learn foreign languages or to pursue their studies. FKI do that at a multinational company where I have been recruited since returning Algeria. I have always loved writing but I used to do it in French, today I feel more at ease doing it in English and I encourage other students to do so in a university newspaper. I am happy to say that after my UGRAD experience, my view on the world changed. It is now a small and beautiful place, and I feel I can do whatever I want and go wherever I want. The sky is the LIMIT.

WalterWalter Gomez Segura, Nicaragua
I moved to Berkeley, CA because I got a job at Wikipedia, located in San Francisco. I’ve been working there for 4 months. I’m also taking 1/3 of a Leadership Master’s degree from St. Mary’s College of California. I have been working on alternate projects with some friends, one of which is to create a website that will work as a platform for young Americans to get to know policies (any kind) from other countries and its benefits on cultural behaviors, daily issues, etc. so that they could find ideas to replicate them in the USA and get as good or better benefits from them.

Nguyen Phan, Vietnamnguyen
During the past few years, I have performed musicals, worked with US Vietnam war veterans on a healthcare project, been a manager of sorts for a British electronic musician for an international festival, volunteered with various organizations in my city, and taken part in the YSEALI workshop in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia (during which I had the opportunity to meet President Obama).

Kristina Koprivica, Serbia
2 years after returning home from the University of Maine, I earned my bachelor’s degree in journalism. k2I worked for a year at a local NGO in Novi Sad – Novi Sad School of Journalism. I opened my own website (, and shortly after that I started working as an Alumni Coordinator for Global UGRAD in Serbia (Novi Sad). I volunteered with American Corner Novi Sad, Belgrade Pride Parade, as well as Print Design and Photography conference in Novi Sad. Additionally, I did an internship with the Group of the European Youth for Change – GEYC.  In January 2015 I moved to Sydney Australia, where I am now, working as a Marketing and Events Coordinator for the Export Council of Australia. At the same time I am taking an online course about Documentary Film-making. From where I stand, there are floating hearts and love is all around. However, I am sure I wouldn’t be standing here now if it hadn’t been for UGRAD program.

Jamie Montoya, El SalvadormontoyaFromWhereIStand
I am completing my Fulbright Foreign Student Program, studying a master’s in information sciences and technologies at the Rochester Institute of Technology. I completed a software internship with Kodak Alaris during the summer of 2014 in Rochester, NY. I am volunteering at a public school in the same city, working with kindergarten kids. I am honored to be a member of the World Learning Global Advisory Council since April 2014 and I will see my World Learning family this month. I will graduate in May 2015 and I cannot wait for the great new surprises in my near future.

Randy Carlie Pierre-Louis, Haiti
After my 2013-2014 Global UGRAD experience, randyI was totally fresh with new goals and new vision of life and ready to get involved in my community. Since I am back, I have been continuing with my studies in Agroforestry and participated in different community services. Also, I have been teaching English for kids at a university in my city. This English program is gaining success with new members in the board and devoted parents. I love my first job and I learn a lot from it. That’s exactly where I stand: school and work.

Natasa Kurucki, Serbia
After UGRAD, I received a full scholarship to do an Erasmus Exchange in Finland, University of Turku. I was with volunteer of UNICEF and after that, I received a full scholarship to participate in Semester at Sea organized by the University of Virginia. JpegI traveled to 15 countries in 4 months, going around the globe. I did projects in Ghana, South Africa, and Vietnam. In 2013, I worked in Kosovo for 2 months with a local NGO. For almost a year I worked for Heysuccess Company, based in the UK, as a Human Resources Manager. Meanwhile I attended some conferences in Belgium, the United States, and Japan. In 2014, I worked in Malaysia for 6 months as a Community Development Officer. At the moment, I am in Belgium, doing my masters degree in Sustainable Territorial Development through the Erasmus Mundus Programme sponsored by the European Commission.

Amalia Novita Sari, Indonesia
This picture was taken at Yayasan Pengembangan Persahabatan Indonesia-Amerika where I teach every day. amalia I am an English teacher teaching at three different places. I teach national curriculum English to grade twelve students at a private vocational high school, I teach English conversation classes at Yayasan Pengembangan Persahabatan Indonesia-Amerika (Indonesia-America Friendship Development Foundation) in Medan, and I teach TOEFL preparation classes at Arts and Languages Center (A-Laser) Medan. In December of last year, I was selected to be one of the recipients of a scholarship program sponsored by Indonesian Ministry of Finance, and I got a scholarship to continue my Masters to the United Kingdom. I will be studying Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, MSc. starting this September.

Jephte Douyon, Haitijephte
Since I have returned to Haiti from the US, I have been involved in several different activities with people of many ages. When I first returned I spent time at a kids camp for a local church which I really enjoyed and met several new people. I have also led a conversation club, as well as helped out with chapel service on campus. School was also a big thing when I returned – I taught a couple of English and computer classes at the beginning of the school year. I still substitute when needed for teachers who need to be gone and recently substituted a Spanish class for middle aged kids. Not only do I teach, but I also go to college as well. My studies are very important to me and I am very dedicated to all my classes.

Viseth Sean, Cambodia
UGRAD was the very first life-changing experience for me as an undergraduate student who always strove to get a taste of studying abroad. visethIn addition to academic training, UGRAD incredibly opened my mind to the world while making friends from many different countries. This awesome experience kept pushing me to go forward and believe in higher education. After graduation, I got to work as a software developer at a local bank which provided significant professional working experience. Then, I won the Fulbright scholarship to pursue my Master’s degree again in the US. Thanks to this prestigious scholarship, I am studying Data Science at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Massachusetts. I strongly reckon that this invaluable opportunity allows me to grow academically and professionally as well as foster a stronger relationship between my country and the US. My picture simply displays that “once a UGRAD, always a UGRAD.” One fact I love about UGRAD is that I have always keep my UGRAD Post in my backpack ever since receiving it several years ago so that it stays with me everywhere I go. And, it’s with me now at WPI.

Viseth says it best: “Once a UGRAD, always a UGRAD.”

Check back next month for more updates about where our alumni “stand” now!

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