As I reminisce on my summer, I feel nothing short of absolute gratitude. My internship experience has taught me more than I could ever have imagined. I am a better researcher, writer, thinker and worker because of it. More important, I am more aware of global affairs, especially in the areas of population, health and the environment.

Celebrating an SMU alum's birthday in D.C.

My stay in DC has taught me to be more confident and independent. I had never lived alone for an extended period of time, or had to transport myself, cook my own meals, or navigate an unfamiliar city without my family’s help, but now that I have traveled the journey, I look forward to doing it all over again.

I am grateful for the friends I have met in DC, especially the SMU alums working here. They are loving and still connected to that true SMU spirit.  I am thankful that so many of them happily opened up their arms and provided a welcoming environment for me. I look forward to doing the same for fellow SMU students when I become an alum.

With family in New York

The city’s great location also made it possible to explore New York City, a place I had been looking forward to visiting for quite some time. Although New York cannot compare to all the exciting political work in DC, it has a lot to show off. Whether it’s Times Square, shopping malls with some of the hottest fashion and unbeatable prices, or its proximity to several Ivy League universities, it’s definitely a must-see.

Of course my study abroad experience in South Africa also contributes to making this summer both unforgettable and incredible. I am blessed to be attending SMU, where the mission of the university makes it possible for students to explore their areas of passion. Where I am surrounded by such a close support group of professors, staff and friends who live to see students succeed. I don’t know very many universities that provide financial support and allow students to combine a study abroad and internship experience, but I guess that is why SMU is such a special place.

SMU and South African students

As I sit in the plane writing this final blog, I am already imagining myself on the campus. Granted, I am not completely prepared, but I guess two days should be enough time to spend some time with family, pack all my belongings and move into the Service House. Looking forward to seeing the beautiful campus, meeting all the incoming students, reuniting with friends and starting my busy but exciting course load I have lined up!

I had the opportunity to write about some issues I care about, including fistula, faith based organizations and maternal mortality. Be sure to read them below: