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Anna Rivera

Anna Rivera, center, crosses the famed crosswalk at Abbey Road in London

Anna Rivera

by Colin Jensen '17

After speaking with so many people from all walks of life who do not have the same freedom or independence as she does, Anna Rivera found a new perspective on her own life, a new meaning.

In the spring of her junior year at KU, Rivera was a supplemental instructor for Mrs. Karise Mace, who along with her husband, Dr. Derek Mace, took students to London on study abroad trips for a single concentrated course, Psychology: Culture and Personality.

The Psychology course offered a perfect opportunity for Rivera to add more stamps to her passport. Moreover, Rivera traveled often as a child since her mother served in the military but felt she wouldn't have another chance to travel after transferring to KU. However, her mindset changed as she observed how studying abroad was incorporated within Kutztown's classroom curriculum.

Rivera said, in regard to the course study in London, she learned the most through informational interviews with immigrants, refugees, international students and trying to immerse herself in the life of a Anna Rivera, second from left, with her classmates in London. Londoner. Her class sought cultural connections and experiences they could apply to their own lives.

"I feel as though everyone gained from the course what they wanted to; by asking the right questions, talking to the right people, and putting ourselves out there, we bettered ourselves as individuals." 

Rivera was hesitant to call it a course but rather, an experience.

"We listened as these individuals explained the obstacles in environment, government, family and friends they overcame."

According to Rivera, the students in the class each made sense of those stories in personal ways that shaped them all very differently.

The trip helped her come to terms with who she was as a person. Rivera's idea of independence was solidified during her time in London and was exemplified when she took the initiative to travel to Dublin with another student.

Rivera stressed the importance of her time in Europe and, subsequently, the impact it had on her.

"Studying abroad gave me the confidence to be who I really am, without holding back. I wouldn't trade that experience for the world."

Rivera graduated from Kutztown in 2015 with a degree in Elementary Education and is currently pursuing a master's degree in Student Affairs in Higher Education at KU. She is expected to finish her degree in May 2018.