In 2012, I participated in the life-changing experience that is the Global UGRAD Program. It helped to not only improved my English proficiency, but also recognize that I am able to achieve whatever I want as long I have determination and discipline to work on it. Also, it empowered me to contribute to my society. Thanks to this exchange program, I found my passion in the development sector. In 2013, I received training in small project management by World Learning and submitted a project proposal. The Project Girls Can Change the World was one of the seven grant winners from the western hemisphere. This project, as well as another project I helped design and implement called Nicawomen Social Entrepreneurs, helped women with financial, entrepreneurial and life skills. Both projects were funded by the U.S. Department of State and provided women with tools to design their business plans, overcome identity problems, and to become committed to their society. In addition, the Nicawomen project allowed me to meet some former Fulbright Fellows who encouraged me to apply to the prestigious program and in some way, they became career mentors.
My work experience after college started one year after Global UGRAD, working in the Inter-American Program of Judicial Facilitators promoted by the Organization of the American States, which aimed to reinforce access to justice for the most vulnerable population of eight countries in the Americas. I worked in the academic area of the program where I was in charge of coordinating research that determined the effectiveness of the interventions. This invaluable experience strengthened my knowledge of key aspects in the fields of international organizations, strategic planning, social research, and result-based management. From January 2015 to July 2017, I worked at the Korean International Cooperation Agency as Coordinator for the Volunteers Program World Friends Korea WFK. This opportunity provided me competence and maturity in dealing with regional and local government officials. Also, I acquired the ability to work under pressure and in a multicultural environment.
I would say that Global UGRAD contributed in a significant way to my professional, academic, and personal development. I am currently a Fulbright Scholar and a Master’s candidate in International Development Administration at Western Michigan University. This experience has allowed me to have a better understanding of the current challenges of development in the developing world, and increased my appreciation of cultural diversity through interactions with classmates and professors who come from different countries and are also committed to the development sector. Global UGRAD helped me to discover my passion and opened many doors for my academic success.
Written by Cinthya Collado from Nicaragua, Global UGRAD 2012-13 at Presbyterian College