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Experiences in Ecuador

January 15, 2016

Hometown: Flossmoor, IL
Majors: Mathematics and Psychology
Minors: Spanish Studies

Manju Connolly, a double major in math and psychology, has been interested in psychology since high school, citing the illustrious program at the University of Minnesota as the driving force behind her college decision. “I am curious about why people behave the way they do.  As an aspiring high school math teacher, I am especially curious about how MY behavior can influence other people's behavior in positive ways.” Manju is one of many students who has taken advantage of the multiple study abroad opportunities that are present through the University of Minnesota.

Her study abroad not only featured coursework entirely in Spanish, but an internship working with a high school teacher. “The highlight of my academic career has been a semester abroad for language and cultural immersion in Ecuador.” Manju cites that the welcoming atmosphere of Ecuador contributed greatly to her positive experience. “I just felt very welcomed there by the students, the teacher, and my host families. Ecuador is a place that’s community oriented; for instance, walking along the street, people will talk to you because they are genuinely interested in your life.”

Manju has had a prominent role with the Y Mentors- Literacy Matters program. Currently, she works to engage youth in the community with reading, speaking, and writing. “It involves a lot of self expression. It’s getting them used to reading and writing, so that when they enter high school and college, they have a more positive view of literacy paired with a strong reading foundation.”

Manju credits her individualized educational experience with the freedom provided by the College of Liberal Arts. “The interdisciplinary nature of CLA has allowed me to combine all of my interests--from acquiring a strong foundation in math and exploring the science of psychology to discovering surprise passion classes like food science and recycling.” Manju is currently part of the DirecTrack to Teaching program, which provides coursework and teaching experience in preparation for the initial teaching licensure program at the University of Minnesota.

This story was written by an undergraduate student account executive in CLAgency. Meet the team.