Seizing the opportunity to study abroad

Most freshman in college spend their year settling in to campus life. In her first year at Portland State University, Nelyn has challenged herself to do just the opposite. This February, she left the comforts of campus to complete a semester abroad in India.

Nelyn found out about the opportunity to travel with Carpe Mundi—a sister organization of Carpe Diem that provides mentorship and scholarships to first-generation college students—with the help of her College Possible high school coach, Callie. She filled out the extensive application and learned she was accepted to the program before she even graduated from Reynolds High School. With funding from the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, she was able to fill her financial gap and make the program a reality.

The support she received prompted Nelyn to display her gratitude publicly. Once in India, she wore t-shirts from each organization who supported her trip—including her bright blue College Possible tee. She posed in front of recognizable monuments, such as the Taj Mahal, while wearing this shirt as a testament of her appreciation.

“College Possible gave me a platform to make all the things possible in my life,” Nelyn said. “I wouldn’t have had this beautiful moment without College Possible.”

Nelyn’s four months abroad were transformational. Not only did she have the opportunity to live with a host family, she strengthened her understanding of community development—her major at PSU—through hands-on classes on farms and in villages. Most importantly, living abroad helped Nelyn feel more empowered and connected to her education.

“With the lack of representation from my community in higher education, I always thought that I did not belong,” she said. “I’ve learned while being on this trip that I can be the first to break the barriers for other students of color and College Possible students to believe that they belong.”

Now back in Portland, Nelyn is motivated to tackle prevalent issues, including women’s rights, women’s health, education and climate change. She knows her personal development will allow her to create change in her community and beyond.

“I learned abroad to recognize my differences and celebrate them, because I can contribute a lot to the team.”

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