Brandi Smith

College: College of Health and Human Sciences  

Major: Developmental and Family Studies; Spanish 

Minors: LGBT Studies

One of the greatest reasons I am so adamant to study abroad is that I will be the first and last to do so in my family. Of my nine older sisters (no brothers), I am one of two to attend a four-year university and have this chance. Many people from the metropolitan area of Kansas City where I grew up may not give studying abroad much thought until they attend a university like Purdue that advocates for international education. Nonetheless, I do see an increase in the number of Black high school graduates continuing on to college. This is the perfect time, if not earlier, to get it in their minds that there are resources out there to help them live their global dreams. Younger students look up to me as a role model and I believe that this experience will surely grab their attention.

By studying abroad for a full semester at the University of Complutense in Madrid, I will be enriched by exposure to a new culture and language, which will help me achieve my academic and professional career goals. I have research experience in the field of family studies, an area closely tied to my studies for graduate school, and in Madrid I plan to volunteer with international companies and organizations in fields such as Education, Psychology, or Social Work. While I am in Spain, I will apply what I have learned in my classes here at Purdue to objectively observe the Spanish family dynamic and cultural values.

A deep immersion in culture will ultimately help me interact with Spanish-speaking families when I open a private practice as a licensed Clinical Psychologist and Marriage and Family Therapist. I intend to stand out as a professional by being able to successfully work with low-income underrepresented families. With a look into how a traditional Spanish family operates, I will be more aware and respectful of differences in other cultures’ beliefs and attitudes. This knowledge will allow me to create a trustworthy environment between myself, as a therapist, and underrepresented, often targeted, families.

When I first enter Spain, I will be living with a family for one month. Afterward, students from the WIP program are required to find their own housing with another Spanish-speaking student on or off-campus. With program coordinators by our side, we will experience the deep immersion in the language. The programs will require me to enroll in 15 credit hours of linguistic, language, and culture courses. In addition, I will have a once in a lifetime chance to visit the Museo del Prado, the Cathedral, Royal Palace, and other historic sites.

I am a believer in the idea that “everything happens for a reason.” Through the Benjamin A. Gilman scholarship, I am granted the opportunity to show others and myself that there are infinite possibilities to overcome adversity and roadblocks. I am on a journey to make a difference, and I would love to take them with me.

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