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Study Abroad Spotlight: Brenda Ferguson

March 2013

Name: Brenda Ferguson
Hometown: Villa Park, Ill.
Major: Speech Pathology
Minor: Spanish
Where did you study abroad? Ecuador
How long were you there? 3 weeks
Why did you choose to study in this location? I wanted to study abroad in Ecuador to gain clinical experiences in a multicultural environment. I had taken several multicultural courses and felt that the experience helped me to apply many concepts we learned in class. I learned to work with an interpreter and create goals and assess children who are bilingual. It was also very beneficial for me to practice my Spanish skills because many work places in the U.S. are looking for speech therapists to be bilingual.
What is your favorite memory? My favorite memory, as far as the academics, was when we worked at an orphanage with children with severe disabilities in wheelchairs and we used fun games, such as, "Red light, Green Light" to work on speech therapy goals. It was great to hear the laughter of the children during these games, especially because most of them did not talk. As far as the tourism-Cajas National Park was my favorite memory. It was beautiful!!
How did your experience abroad impact you as a person? I feel that I have grown as a professional. I learned to adapt to the environment I am in and change how I am doing things to fit the needs of the environment rather than expect people to change. I learned to understand how other cultures do things differently and gain a new perspective on certain speech therapy concepts in multicultural environments.
What advice would you give to other students thinking about studying abroad? I would advise others to keep an open mind and immerse themselves in the culture. This is a rare opportunity so make the most of it. When you have the opportunity to try something different, ask yourself if you would regret not doing it after the trip. I think it was so much fun to have so many stories to share with my family and friends because I was willing to participate in so many different activities and experiences.


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