HOMETOWN: SANTIAGO, CHILE
MANHATTANVILLE COLLEGE (PURCHASE, N.Y.)
MAJOR: POLITICAL SCIENCE WITH A CONCENTRATION IN LEGAL STUDIES
Why did you come to the United States to study?
I moved from Chile when I was 14 … to the Dominican Republic and from there came to the United States. I wanted to get a degree from an American university. I knew it would open doors for me.
Why did you pick Manhattanville out of all the other schools?
Manhattanville College sent recruits to my high school. There were a lot of different schools … but Manhattanville College was the one that offered me the biggest scholarship. They made the most contact with me too. You know how a lot of schools show up to these (high school) events and are very passive? Manhattanville was active in pursuing students. They followed through with me, and I liked that. So I came here, and I love it.
Reid Castle, built in 1892, is the face of Manhattanville.
Why did you pick your major?
I wanted to do something relating to law and politics.
What is your favorite place on campus?
The library. It’s great there because it helps me get my stuff done. Ever since freshman year, I’ve loved going to the library.
Have you been back to Chile since you’ve come here?
I try to go back to Chile every year for the holidays. I go for Christmas and New Year’s, and I try to spend at least two weeks back at home.
What has surprised you the most about the United States?
This is a hard question, but I would definitely have to say manners. Manners don’t seem to be as important here. What I mean by that is the respect people have for older people is very different from what I’ve been used to and raised with in Latin America.
Students enjoy working outside of the library on a sunny day.
Do you ever feel homesick?
I do, but only when I’m sick. … That was when my mom used to help me the most. When I didn’t feel well, she would make me feel better. So I always miss her a lot when I get sick. Especially with the cold, I get sick more often too.
What challenges do you face here?
Homesickness is a challenge. But the weather as well. It’s really cold, and that’s not something I’m used to. Also … because it’s so cold, it means people have to stay inside and can’t be outside doing things.
How do you spend your free time?
I like to go out with my friends around White Plains and New York City.
What extracurricular activities are you involved in? What do you do besides just go to class?
I am a part of Pre-Law Honor Society. We go to meetings every week. We coordinate and go to events. I was also a part of the Model U.N. club. The main thing that we did in that club was coordinate a trip where we got various students to go to a conference in Boston about international affairs. So I enjoyed that a lot.
Do you have an internship?
I do. I work in the Westchester County Courthouse. I have a lot of different responsibilities there. I review pre-trial motions made by the defense and prosecution parties. I also get a chance to observe pre-trail and trial hearings. I assist in drafting memorandums of law and conduct basic legal research as well. It’s an opportunity that I really enjoy and feel really lucky to have.
How did you get that internship?
I was in a Legal Ethics class here on campus and I networked with my professor. He works part-time in the Courthouse, and his friend is a judge there. Through my connection with my professor, I was able to land this wonderful opportunity.
What do you know now that you wish you knew before you came to the United States to study?
I think the cold. People always talked about how cold it was, but I really underestimated it a lot. I wish I knew how cold it actually is.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to a student from Chile — or anywhere — who wants to study in the United States?
I would tell them to just go for it. It’s not as hard as they may think. It’s 100 percent doable, and no one should let anyone or anything stop them or get in their way. I love Manhattanville, so if they’re considering Manhattanville College, do it!
What are your plans after graduation?
I plan to go to law school, and I’m interested somewhat in environmental policy. So we will see!
BY PATRICIA RODRIGUEZ-DIAZ