I have to be honest, my decision to, first, apply and then attend to Penn was a bit serendipitous. As you recall, I am from Southern California, and I am also a first-generation college student. My parents have always been incredibly encouraging and proudof dreams. They do their best to help me in any way they can, but because they have no experience with what I went and am currently going through, they support me financially (God bless their souls, I am so grateful) rather than through guidance and mentorship. Additionally, as a first-generation student, I was not aware, yes even at the graduate level, of all the schools I could apply to. Furthermore, being a West Coaster wanting to move to the East Coast, I was overwhelmed with all the schools I could research.

I began my search, after much self-reflection, once I finally decided exactly what kind of Master’s I wanted to be doing. I am passionate about kids, I love learning about human rights, and I am interested in developing a greater understanding of refugee populations. BAM! A Master’s in International Education. At the time of my research and self-reflection, I had a friend I was studying/interning abroad with who was also thinking about grad school. We kept in touch even after our time and Spain, and when she told me about a program she was applying to at Penn, I decided to look into it.

Penn’s International Educational Development Program (IEDP) quickly became my top choice.It was clear that it would teach me the tangible skills I need to work in the field of educational development, while also allowing me to be flexible and enjoy classes in my specific area of interest. Additionally, what stood out to me about Penn’s IEDP Program was the international internship component. While a few other IEDP-type programs at other schools encouraged an optional internship (that students had to search on their own),Penn’s IEDP internship component is required and internship placement is done through extensive support of a senior professor

I was so lucky that my program has a later deadline than most, because it was not until mid-February that I decided I should apply. Unfortunately, at that point, I had already received one rejection letter. I feared experiencing that again, so I delayed submitting my application as long as possible. I ended up receiving my acceptance in late May! I had a very short time to decide, but after remembering how excited I was when I first found Penn’s IEDP Program, seeing the how proud my family was of my acceptance, and sharing my excitement with my friend who had also applied and gotten accepted to Penn, I knew it was an easy decision.

Penn may not have been my dream school since I was a child, but the little things that led to big things that led me here were more than enough to let me know I made the right choice!