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Summer overseas: Vanessa Pena’s Venture Grant takes her to Europe (pics)

July 20, 2014

Vanessa Pena’16 doesn’t have to worry about finding places to crash when she travels around Europe during her semester abroad this fall. She made great connections--and friends--during a conference she attended in Freiberg, Germany last month.

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“I met people from all over the world who either had a Ph.D. or were on their way to obtaining one,” Pena says. “It was such a rewarding experience since it reflected back as to  why I am on campus doing research as part of the McNair Scholars program.”

Pena, a McNair Scholar, attended the Comparative Education Society in Europe conference with her McNair mentor Bill New, who presented at the conference.

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“This conference overlapped with McNair because I was able to experience the world of academia as an undergraduate student and talk to people who already have a Ph.D. or are on their way to obtaining one,” she says. It also helped her solidify her resolve towards her future career plans. “The conference reassured me that graduate school after Beloit is what I want to do since I was mesmerized by all the different types of research projects and how it can help the world on a global scale.”

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Pena also went on a guided city tour of Freiburg, went to a barbecue at the famous Black Forest, and attended a gala dinner at this very fancy restaurant that overlooked the city.

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“It was a great opportunity to get a sense of the culture in Europe especially since it was my first time,” she says. “Thanks to this trip, I feel even more ready for my semester abroad in Amsterdam this fall!”