My name is Sarah MacLean and I’m a rising senior at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. I am a political science major with a concentration in international relations and comparative government with a minor in communications. I love the mountains, Italian food, and most importantly travel. I was given the unique opportunity to engage in a virtual internship through the School for International Training (SIT) this summer. I held the position of an undergraduate researcher, and my internship was based in South Africa. Throughout the six-week program, we covered the topics of diplomacy, conflict resolution, and international relations.
Throughout this program, I gained real-life experience on what is really like to be a diplomat in international politics. Becoming a United States diplomat is my next step as I graduate next May. I chose this program hoping it would give me a taste of what I plan on doing for the rest of my life. One of the elements during the summer was talking with Consul General Anne Linnee. Linnee spoke about how started her career as a diplomat and her experiences. Anne Linnee’s lecture was one of the last ones of the program and it solidified my desire to enter the foreign service. That solidification was I hoping to gain from this experience. I also enjoyed this program because it exposed me to other college-age students that share the same feelings and passions and I have.
At this point in my academic career, I am a starting my senior year in a few short weeks and I’m passionate about graduating. Graduation means entering the workforce and starting my career. I have studied all of college to get to that point and I cannot wait to apply what I have learn academically to my career. Hopefully by graduation, I will have passed the foreign service officer test and have received my first placement, which will mostly be stateside. I have loved my time at UTC dearly and I am sad it is coming to an end so quickly. I feel like it was not long ago I started freshman year as a business major and quickly found it not to my liking. I realized my freshman year, I wanted to make a difference on a global scale that built bridges between our country and others.
After World War II, President Eisenhower believed that the best way to break cycles of fear and misunderstanding was for people to learn about the world around them. I feel that there would not be as many disagreements or wars if global leaders simply understood the world around them. Fear causes people to act with aggression and leads to experiences that could and would be avoided. That is why I want to be a diplomat. I want to ensure that both sides. Fully understand one another in order to move forward in a positive manner.
This internship has given me many applicable life skills. I learned how to conduct research and collaborate well with others to complete tasks. I have completed research papers and such for many classes while in college. However, I have never had to expand my ideas much further that surface level findings. I also learned valuable networking skills. With the COVID-19 pandemic, I feel like it has been difficult meeting people and connecting with others that share similar passions and career goals. This opened doors between me and others that gave me beneficial information and skills.
I learned so much in such a short period of time this summer. I can take so many aspects I learned this summer and apply it to my last year of my undergraduate degree and my professional career. I am sad to see it end, but I am so excited to walk through the doors it opened for me. Thank you for this unique opportunity to virtually study abroad. It would not have been made possible without the generous scholarship from the study abroad office. If you need anything else from me, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.
Sarah MacLean (BS Political Science) participated in the summer 2022 URaCE and Office of Study Abroad virtual research internship abroad to South Africa through SIT Study Abroad. Sarah had the following to say about the virtual internship abroad experience, “You can learn and experience so much without ever leaving Chattanooga! I learned so many valuable skills for my academic and professional career during my program! If you can study abroad, GO! You won’t regret it!”
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