Global Graduate, Madilyn Hoffman, 2020

The Global Graduates award is the premier award upon for students who represent The University of Tulsa as a global citizens. This select group of graduating undergraduate students are distinguished for excelling academically, contributing to the TU campus community, and partaking in unique experiences abroad. This will be a multi-part series featuring all of our 2020 Global Graduates.

Major: Spanish and minor in political science
Hometown: Fort Worth, Texas
TU Activities and Leadership:
Study Abroad Peer Advisor, TU Mock Trial Member, Global Scholars Programming Committee and Executive Committee, Pioneered Internships for Global Scholars in Panama along with three other students, Apartment Community Assistant, and Reading Partner.

Study Abroad Experiences:
My first time going abroad at TU was my freshman year with my Global Scholars cohort. We were able to travel to Panama for Sustainability and Urban Development with Dr. Troilo. My group presented our pitch to convert teak tree waste into essential oils and candles to the Batipa Farm in rural Panama. My sophomore year I went back to Panama with one of my friends and Global Scholars where I spent a month working as an intern at the Olga Sinclair Art Foundation. My friend and I as well as two other Global Scholars working at a different internship paved the way for future Global Scholars and TU students to have a variety of internships and connections in Panama to intern with. Last but not least, last semester I studied abroad in Barcelona, Spain. I took all of my classes in Spanish to gain fluency, had an internship at the Mujeres Felices Foundation, lived with a host family, and was also able to travel to 4 other countries while I was there.

Post Graduation Plans:
I am taking the LSAT at the end of May and will complete my applications to attend law school for this upcoming fall. I am applying to schools that have wonderful international law programs, in hopes of becoming an international or immigration lawyer.

Who influenced you to study abroad?:
I would have to say that my biggest influence for studying abroad would be my mom. I think she looked at the limited travel opportunities she had growing up and saw the possibilities I had in front of me and encouraged me to take every single one. I am still so grateful for her support, some parents instill worry and fear in their children about international travel (which is just because all parents worry about their children’s safety and rightfully so) but my mom always told me that college should be my time to get out and see the world before life gets in the way. Not to say that she didn’t worry about me, or continuously send me safety reminders each time I traveled, but she recognized that my life would be greatly enriched by all of these opportunities abroad and put her own motherly worries aside to support me. Plus, secretly I think it was because she wanted to come visit me wherever I wound up. She came to visit me while I was in Spain with my dad and brother and then we all traveled to Italy together as a family. It was everyone’s first time in Europe and they absolutely loved it!

What was your favorite part of your experiences?:
Each experience holds its own special place in my heart. For my first trip to Panama, my favorite part was being pushed so far out of my academic comfort zone. As a non-business student I felt incredibly unequipped to pitch our idea to a real company. Yet, in the midst of my uncertainty I chose to give it my all and our group presented so well that the company wanted to partner with us and create some real products! Not only that, but after we came back two group members and I pitched the same idea at TU’s Day of Innovation where we won second place and a cash prize.

As for my internship at Olga Sinclair, my favorite part was all of the personal connections I made. The foundation only has four employees, so we all became great friends by the end of the trip. We went to art exhibits together, went dancing, they showed us the BEST places to eat patacones and fresh fish, and we even took a day trip to the beach. I have friends in Panama that I know will last me a lifetime. We are even looking at bringing two of them to TU for the Festival of the Americas this fall.

Last but not least, my semester in Barcelona. I don’t think I could possibly pick my favorite part because the whole trip was the best three months of my life! I made great friends that I traveled all over Europe with, went to the beach almost every Friday after class, lived literally three blocks from the famous Sagrada Familia, ate some of the best meals I’ve ever had thanks to my host mom, and finally obtained a great level of fluency in Spanish.

How has studying abroad influenced your future career/goals/ post grad life/ etc.?:
I have always had a great passion for learning languages. I took four years of both Spanish and Chinese in high school, decided to major in Spanish, and started taking Russian classes during my time at TU. I always knew I wanted to do something that would allow me to use my gift of language in my career, as well as travel which led me to look at all kinds of international jobs. All three of the global opportunities I had during my time at TU gave me newfound independence, academic confidence, and a greater awareness for those around me. Which, inevitably led me to pursue a career as an international lawyer where I can not only use my foreign language skills but also be an advocate for those who need it. All of the law schools to which I am applying have their own kind of study abroad experiences, such as being a part of legal clinics in countries like Cambodia or Mexico while taking classes there as well. I had the best global experiences during my time at TU, but I know it is only the start of plenty more opportunities to come!

What has Global Scholars done for you?:
Without the Global Scholars program, I wouldn’t have been able to go to Panama and do the business pitch, which has been one of the events that shaped me into the student I am today. I mean how many college freshmen can say that they traveled to another country on behalf of their program to give a successful business pitch (without having any sort of prior experience) to a large international company? My guess is not many, but I am happy to say that I am a part of the few that can!

And, without Dr. Foley our amazing program director, I would not have gone back to Panama for my second trip. I came to her asking for an internship opportunity, without anything specific in mind. And she presented me with this wonderful idea for an internship in Panama that quickly transformed from a thought into a reality, something that only she could have made happen. I have learned so much from her and I will be forever grateful for how hard she worked to give myself and many other students opportunities that other college kids could only dream about.

Last Remarks:
TU has been everything I could have hoped for in a school and more. I am graduating a year early, and have somehow been able to travel each year as an undergraduate student. My professors have not only invested in my education, but me as a person. And I have no doubt in my mind that my education here has prepared me for this next phase of my life. Reign Cane Forever!