Universidad Centroamericana (UCA)
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Lina Ruth Duiker

Major: Philosophy, Spanish
Minor: Women's Studies, Latin American Studies
Hometown: State College, PA

How did you learn about this opportunity?

I actually created this enrichment experience myself. I am in the Schreyer Honors College, and I wanted to do my thesis on sexual assault in Nicaragua, so I talked with my advisor and many other professors at the university and found a contact at UCA. I then looked for funding online and thought of trying to get funding from my college.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

My experience in Nicaragua was definitely a whirlwind. There was a lot of chaos, which comes from doing research on your own, but it was definitely an impactful experience. While I was in Managua, I met a lot of people from the university that I was at, and I got to learn about a different culture. Because of the nature of my research, I had a lot of interesting conversations with the people who took the surveys. My survey had a section based on empathy and then another section about consent. There were consent vignettes, and it was interesting to hear how people reacted differently and were frustrated with the way the vignettes were set up. They purposefully did not give information about the relationship between the male and the female. I talked with a lot of the younger females about how they felt about sexual assault in Nicaragua, and they told me about their specific experiences with machismo. I had to go up to random people and ask them if they wanted to do a survey, and the people there were very helpful and nice, so it was not nearly as terrifying as it seemed at the beginning.

How did this experience impact you academically?

This experience is impacting me academically because it is research that I am doing for my thesis. I wanted to do my thesis on something that was important to me, that was interesting, and that I thought could make a difference. I decided to do it on sexual assault because of a class I took in the spring about sexual and domestic violence. Nicaragua has one of the highest sexual assault rates in Latin America, so I chose to go to Managua to do the surveys. I wanted to look specifically at the ethics of sexual assault because of an ethics course that I had also taken in the spring. I was able to incorporate all of my interests and my majors and minors (Philosophy, Spanish, Women’s Studies, and Latin American Studies) into my thesis, which was really cool!

This experience has impacted what my dream career would look like.

What are your career goals and plans?  How did this experience impact them?

I am planning on graduating in Spring of 2018, which means I will graduate at the end of my third year. I will take two gap years working, and then continue on to law school. I am not sure exactly what I want to do during my gap years, but I am thinking of moving to Washington D.C. and either working at a law firm as a paralegal, working at a non-profit, or working as an intern at a law firm. This experience has impacted what my dream career would look like. I am planning on working in either immigration law, child protection services, or domestic and sexual violence law.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

Yes, I would definitely recommend that students get some experience abroad. I would probably recommend trying to be in a program that is already set up, but making your own experience is definitely cool too!

How has the Paterno Fellows Program had an impact on this experience?

The Paterno Fellows Program has impacted my experience because it is the reason I even had this experience. I would never have even thought to do this research on my own. I might have tried a study abroad, but to come up with my own research experience and find funding to pay for it all would never have even been a thought that entered my mind. I joined Paterno Fellows, and through this I was admitted to the Schreyer Honors College. Because I wanted to incorporate all of my majors and minors into my thesis in some way, I came up with an experience that was uniquely mine; through funding from Schreyer and the Liberal Arts Enrichment Fund, I was able to actually go to Nicaragua and do research on a problem that is impacting real people.

For more information on global opportunities for Liberal Arts students, visit our website.
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