Did you grow up with the dream of traveling around the world? Valeria Renée Rivera remembers a time when she she was only four years old and fantasized about attending Harvard University. Although the name of the school would be different, her reality exceeded her expectations.
“I think that the idea of it [studying abroad] was always very appealing to me because I’ve always been very curious, I’ve always loved traveling, and I’ve always loved meeting different people — being in new environments. From a very young age, studying abroad was just the dream for me.”
Keeping things in perspective
Growing up in San Salvador, El Salvador, Valeria’s interactions were limited to people of her same ethnicity and religion. The U.S. should have been foreign to her — so how then did she have a seamless transition to her study abroad? Her preparation was second to none. She exposed herself to American media, music, television, and even made a couple of trips to the U.S. during her early summers.
This preparation speaks to Valeria’s personality. Whatever came her way, whether learning experiences or opportunities — she embraced them with open arms. It’s this willingness to “say yes” that has contributed to so much of Valeria’s success, and it’s the biggest piece of advice she has to share with future students.
“I always tell people to take every opportunity that they can. I achieved a lot when I was in school. I’m pretty proud of everything that I did when I was at Lycoming, and I think that’s a huge reason why I achieved so much — because I said yes to everything at first. It’s all about getting out of your comfort zone. The worst that can happen when saying yes to an opportunity that you’re maybe kind of on the fence about is you realize maybe that wasn’t for you.”
Valeria wasn’t always certain what she wanted to do, but she knew she wanted a space where she could feel comfortable exploring different subjects, majors, and career pathways. Her journey brought her from her small country to Lycoming College, and her perspective on life has allowed her to pursue a career she’s passionate about. Having recently graduated from Lycoming College, Valeria is continuing to pursue her dreams as a member of the Study in the USA team!
“There’s always something to take away from an experience, an opportunity. The more that you put yourself out there, the more people know you — you build a rep for yourself — and more [opportunities] will fall in your lap that way.”
Use code VALERIA30 for US$30 off a new TOEFL iBT test registration. The discount offer is valid through November 2, 2022. For more information, including terms and conditions visit https://bit.ly/3zgtzVm
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT…
You can rewatch our informative Facebook Live session with TOEFL and Valeria Rivera to hear her story in its entirety.
Thanks to our friends at TOEFL for supporting this program!
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