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How Studying Abroad Changes What’s Possible

A semester in Chile with Syracuse University Abroad leads to growth and opportunities.
Portrait of Sophie Clinton posing in front of Chilean landscape.

Sophie Clinton ’24 spent a semester in South America studying issues related to human rights and policy, perfecting her Spanish language skills and exploring the Southern Cone.

Scenic imagery of mountain and glacier in Chile.

The Syracuse study abroad program, based in Santiago, provides students the opportunity to visit national parks and important cultural sites throughout Chile and in Argentina, Uruguay and other countries as well.

Students at Syracuse University have access to one of the best international education programs in the nation. Through Syracuse’s study abroad program, students can live and learn in more than 60 locations around the world, including at five international centers with dedicated Syracuse University infrastructure and faculty.

Sophie Clinton ’24 knew early in her academic journey that she wanted to study abroad with the Syracuse program in Santiago, Chile. Clinton majors in women’s and gender studies, political science, and Spanish language, literature and culture, with a minor in atrocity studies, through the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and the College of Arts and Sciences. A semester in Santiago was a chance to engage in her interests while living with a host family, taking courses alongside Chilean students at a local university, traveling to a range of historically significant sites in multiple South American countries, and possibly interning with a local organization. All this promised a level of cultural immersion that appealed to Clinton, who looked forward to gaining fluency in Spanish and experiencing life in another culture.

A Supportive Community Enables Bold Exploration

Sophie Clinton posses in front of scenic overlook of glacier carving out valley.

Clinton’s internship at the Museum of Memory and Human Rights helped her clarify her professional goals and opened an assortment of possible next steps in graduate school and the professional world for her to consider.

Clinton’s time abroad was filled with meaningful experiences. She witnessed the inauguration of Chile’s new president, Gabriel Boric. She participated in Santiago’s Pride Parade—one of the largest in South America. She relished the friendships she made with Chilean and international peers, and she engaged in an internship at the Museum of Memory and Human Rights that, ultimately, has inspired her to new academic and professional aspirations. “To have been in Chile during so many important times—while I was also adapting and learning about myself—was really incredible,” she says.

Clinton says that what made it possible for her to engage in the opportunities presented by study abroad was the close-knit community she formed with the other students and the caring support of the staff in the program. “Mauricio [Mauricio Paredes, program director] works really hard to make sure that each student has opportunities that will be most meaningful to their specific interests,” she explained. “He understood what courses and internship options would fit me best and made recommendations that were spot on. I think that speaks to the emphasis on individuality that’s central to this abroad program.”

An Internship With Global Impact

Clinton interned with the department of education, within the museum. She worked with human rights lawyers and other professionals to develop online courses about human rights and the prevention of genocide. “Figuring out how to make sure people could engage with this material, and really be able to integrate all of this knowledge into their professional lives, was very challenging and very rewarding,” Clinton says. “My internship at the Museum of Memory and Human Rights was the most significant internship that I’ve had. It’s amazing to know that there are so many people now, throughout the world, who we’ve reached with our courses, and who have been able to learn about these important events.”

Study Abroad Opens New Opportunities

Sophie Clinton poses for a photo inside of a cable car that is in motion up a mountain.

With funding to support undergraduate research, Clinton returned to Chile over the summer to research historical connections between gender and sexuality and human rights abuses.

The work she did for her internship also yielded the focus for an extensive independent research project. “My honors thesis will focus on the LGBTQ community, how gender and sexuality play into genocide, and how people and individuals can be rendered as nonhuman through the eyes of a dictator state,” she explained. With funding from the Renée Crown University Honors Program to support undergraduate research, Clinton returned to Santiago this summer to work on this project.

Clinton’s study abroad experiences helped her gain clarity on her professional goals and opened a range of possible next steps. She may join Maxwell’s accelerated master’s program track and earn a master of public administration just one year after earning her bachelor’s. But she is also considering graduate programs in human rights studies or gaining experience in the professional world first, working with an organization focused on human rights. “My internship has made so many other experiences possible,” she says. “What I was able to do in Santiago took my favorite parts of all my majors and minor and allowed me to look into the things I’m interested in in a focused way. It’s really helped me to come into my career identity.”

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