Nahir Hurtado was enrolled at ESLi during the spring and summer semesters of 2016.
She matriculated to UMD for the fall semester of 2016.
Since then, she has been very involved on campus and has achieved excellent academic success.
Nahir was awarded the Arrowhead Award for her involvement with the International Club.
Most recently, Nahir participated in the National Student Leadership Diversity Conference.
1. Tell me more about your cultural background.
I am Latina. I am from Santa Cruz, Bolivia. As many people describe the Latin culture, we are very joyful and enthusiastic. Speaking especially about Bolivia, the most remarkable thing about our culture is that we love to be around our family and spend a lot of time together.
2. Why did you decide to study in the U.S.?
I decidedto study in the USA because I was looking for a better education and a way to learn from new and different experiences. When I made the decision to study abroad I knew that it was going to be so difficult to do it; not many people from Bolivia have the opportunity to study abroad because it is difficult to afford it. Even though there weren’t so many opportunities for me to come here, I took the challenge and I kept looking for a way to study abroad and that is how I reached my goal.
3. How and why did you select UMD as your university of choice?
Finding a University was really hard for me, especially because I didn’t know how to speak English (I hardly knew some basic things). So, that was an obstacle but fortunately I found the ProfesoresAsociados institution where they introduced me to the ESLi program. After I convinced my parents to let me do it, we got more information about this program and I applied for different Universities that I was interested in. UMD was one of them. I was accepted to the three Universities that I applied to, so I had to choose one of them. At the beginning I wasn’t sure if I wanted to study in Duluth because it is a really different place. I realized it is going to be a big change for me. However, the difference between Santa Cruz and Duluth made me want to come here because that was exactly what I wanted (to experience new things). Also, one of the main reasons about choosing UMD is that they have an excellent engineering program.
4. What was your experience at ESLi?
ESLi was a great experience. The professors and director were excellent; they were always willing to help in anything. I have learned so many things in ESLi in many different ways. I learned English through the lessons that they gave me, but also I learned by involving with the community. I remember we went to different events on campus and off campus where we could practice what we were learning. The field trips were the perfect way to relief the stress from our academic routine. I think the best thing about ESLi is that you are actually learning more about the place where you are living.
5. How was the transition from a small language program (ESLi) setting to a larger academic setting (UMD)? Do you feel you received the necessary support? Explain.
I was so scared at the beginning. I was afraid that I was not ready to take such a big step in a short time. However, throughout the first semester I realized that I have enough knowledge to do well in my classes. I would not say that it was easy because sometimes I had hard time trying to understand important concepts with difficult vocabulary. However, I had a better semester than I thought (I wasn’t expecting to do that well in my first semester). ESLi prepared me for it, especially for writing in which I had a great grade thanks to all the things I learned in ESLi. I think enrolling in ESLi was a smart decision because they taught many things and prepared me for success.
6. Tell me more about your first semester at UMD. What clubs and organizations you were involved with?
As I said I wasn’t expecting to have such a great first semester. Even though I had some problems and hard time in my life, I succeeded. One of my biggest achievements in the first semester was that I was accepted in the University Honors program. Also, thanks to my grades I was part of the dean’s list in the fall. On the other hand, trying to balance book-smarts and social-smarts, I joined the International Club in which I have met many different and wonderful people. I have been part of many events that the International Club organizes; one of the most important is Feast of Nations. I volunteered to walk in the fashion show where I showed the traditional clothes from Santa Cruz, Bolivia. I enjoyed it. It was a great experience to have the opportunity to show a little bit more of my culture. I love being part of this club.Thanks to my commitment to the International Club I had a wonderful surprise a few weeks ago; I received an Arrowhead award. I am so amazed and happy with all the accomplishments I have reached.
7. What is the best experience you’ve had since you enrolled at ESLi and later matriculated to UMD?
My greatest experience I’ve had since I came here was the welcome week and orientation before I started my first semester at UMD. I saw that kind of events in TV, movies, and I never thought that I could have the opportunity to live it. So, that was great and during that time I realized that actually I am in the United States. I am doing something that many people thought could not do.
8. Tell me more about the National Student Leadership Diversity Conference. What was the process for attending? Were you personally invited and why?
The NSLDC is a conference wherewe learn how to be a leader for social justice and change. We are learning it by attending different workshops and interacting with other people to share our cultures and differences. Everyone from the International Club or people with any cultural background were invited but we have to fill an application and write about why we want to go to the conference and how we can contribute to it.
9. How do you stay motivated?
I think the way I keep motivated is that I want something better for my family and me. I want to make a small but remarkable thing to improve our society and environment. Also, one of my biggest motivations is that my parents are working hard to give me the opportunity to have a better experience and education, so one day I can do something good for them and the society.
10. What piece of advice do you have for other students if they want to be as successful and as engaged as you?
Everyone is different and everyone has a different idea of what success means to them. However, no matter what their concept is the advice I can give to other students is not to be afraid of change. Being open to have new experiences and being willing to learn anything they need to succeed.
11. What is your motto?
My motto is, "Where there is a will, there is always a way." I always believe that everything is possible when you have the will to do your best to achieve it.
12. What would your dream job be?
My dream job would be one in which I can be my own boss. A job that allows me to have a stable income, so I could help other people and travel once in a while. That is why I would like to have my own business and be my own boss.