ABAC student goes from tobacco field work to studying abroad
By Ana Martinez
Special to The Stallion
If someone had asked me 10 years ago how I saw myself 10 years later, I would have said that I would probably still be working in the tobacco fields. Fortunately, ABAC has changed my life since I decided to return to school.
I not only pursued an associate’s degree in social work, but I also obtained a job and enrolled in for my Bachelor of Science Degree in Rural Studies with a concentration in social and community affairs. I am in love with the rural studies program because it prepares students not only academically, but also for the real world through internships and study abroad programs.
When people ask students in the rural studies program what they like about the program, most of them say that they like the small class size and the friendly college community. In addition, students have the opportunity of study abroad and work in internships to explore and areas they are studying.
For instance, in 2011 I had the privilege of being a part of a study abroad trip to Nicaragua for 11 days. That experience in Nicaragua gave me the opportunity to see rural life from a different perspective and realize that rural life exists everywhere.
Visiting hospitals, clinics, and non-profit organizations in Nicaragua helped me to see how poverty differs from Nicaragua to Mexico or even to the United States. I observed that these countries not only differ on the issue of poverty, but they also differ on other issues, such as on health and social services.
We enjoyed beautiful views such as the volcano, the mountains, the cave, the canyon and more. These experiences made me want to challenge myself by doing things I was afraid to do. Being at the top of an active volcano was unique, because I used to be afraid of heights, but after that I think that I would do it again.
Observing the beauty of the mountains was also incredibly memorable, because of the peace I could feel. Being in a cave with bats was exciting, too, because it is not common to see this elusive species. Also, we went to the Grand Canyon and that was remarkable due to the view and the contact with nature.
In addition to the study abroad program, students in the rural studies program have the opportunity to do an internship to gain knowledge and experience in their field of study. I am so excited to start my internship as an assistant of and adult education program called INEA offered by the Mexican Consulate along with Goodwill Industries International, Inc., an international non-profit organization in Vidalia, Ga. I am confident that this adventure as assistant will prepare me to be ready for a better job when I graduate.
Obtaining a bachelor’s degree in rural studies will definitely make students more confident about their skills. The rural studies program’s vision is that all graduates obtain a job when they complete the program, so this guarantees them that the program will prepare them to be successful.