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Destination Success: Karen Reymundo

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 image of student In 2013, the DDCE and UT’s Study Abroad Office launched a Maymester program in Beijing that gives students from diverse backgrounds a world of experience—in academics, the working world and community service.  Now a signature program within the Longhorn Center for Academic Excellence, the Beijing Maymester course continues to offer a trip of a lifetime to many Longhorns.  We caught up with some alumni to learn more about the program, Social Entrepreneurship in the U.S. and China, and how they benefited from their adventures abroad.

Name: Karen Reymundo  (Nutritional Sciences, ‘16) 

Activities: Project volunteer, LCAE; lead volunteer, Students Helping Admissions’ Recruitment Effort; volunteer, UT Red Cross Club; Alpha Lambda Delta/Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society; Pre-Physician Assistant Society; Student Leadership Institute; student mentor, Summer Bridge; College Forward Collegians; Gateway Scholars Mentor Program 

Flying solo….Reymundo faced her first big challenge even before setting foot in Beijing: Flying alone for the first time. Unable to book a flight with a fellow Gateway scholar, she was plagued by a maelstrom of “what if?” questions. “All of these thoughts and questions such as, “What if I get lost? What if I accidentally missed my connecting flight? What if something bad happened?” Many other questions were running through my head. It was overwhelming and I felt scared.” 

image of studentKeeping calm and carrying on…She soon learned that it’s OK to feel anxious about new experiences. Though she did get lost a few times and experienced some setbacks, she learned how to stay optimistic and calm in the midst of adversity. “Overcoming my first set of challenges gave me the confidence to do other activities that I may feel hesitant or fearful about.”  

Expanding her comfort zones…”Putting myself out there, especially in a foreign place, allowed me to meet people whom I would’ve never met otherwise, and to engage in a conversation I’ve never had before. Not only did I feel more at ease when it came to approaching new people, I have also gained a different outlook on life.”

Fun and games…Of all her memories, she’s most fond of the time she spent with her fellow travelers at a mountain village near the Great Wall. Without cell phones, TVs or other digital distractions, they laughed the night away over a little game of “Wink Murder.” “Sitting closely next to each other felt intimate, as if we were all family. Just hearing everyone giggling and laughing made it much more special.”  

A whole new world…“As cliché as it sounds, studying abroad truly did give me an opportunity to look at the world through a new lens. As we visited historical sites, interacted with street vendors, observed families and conversed with Chinese students, I experienced these things with an understanding and respect of their culture. As I learned more about China first-hand, I developed a better perception of how they live, what their values are, and of the issues that they are currently facing,. It was also through these experiences that I have come to appreciate what we take for granted here in the states.”  

Life after UT…After graduation, Reymundo pursued her passion for healthcare and took on a job at St. David’s Hospital in the Nursery Unit. In the future, she aims to work in a clinic that serves low-income community members. “Hopefully with experience, I will be able to create an organization that will provide a free or affordable health care in the Philippine province that I grew up in.”