Student Study Abroad Trip Sparks Shift in Career Goals

Jessica Ruf Study Abroad

A little over a year ago, Jessica Ruf was studying at Hope International University (HIU) and thinking about becoming a lawyer after she graduated. After studying in Washington, D.C., through the Best Semester program for the Spring 2010 semester, she now wants to pursue a Master’s Degree in Community Development and is currently working for an organization called Life in Abundance (LIA).

Originally from Northern Idaho, Ruf is a senior at HIU and will graduate in May 2011 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biblical Studies. She wanted to study abroad for some time and had even considered studying internationally before Dr. Steve Edgington, Dean of Pacific Christian College, suggested another possibility.

“I had been looking at different options for an internship that involved anti-trafficking work when Dean [Dr. Steven] Edgington invited me to meet with a representative from Best Semester,” she said. “What I loved about Best Semester was I could study in D.C. and organize my own internship while living with a community of students from other Christian colleges.”

Ruf learned that she is drawn to the fast paced work of community development and says that this field is one she is passionate about because she gets to work in a collaborative environment and enact changes that are “tangibly helping other people.”

While in D.C., Ruf organized a fundraiser to help anti-trafficking efforts in India as part of her internship with a non-profit organization called the Jubilee Campaign. She also worked with a team of other students on a development project in the Sudan that included doing research and assembling a group of government officials, private companies, and organizations that could work together to complete the project.

Jessica Ruf Study Abroad

“I loved that I was able to meet with professional men and woman who are further along in life than me and who are willing to share their wisdom and insight,” she said. “I cherished and learned from those moments so much and since being back at HIU I have intentionally tried to mimic that aspect of D.C. culture.”

The projects Ruf worked on while in D.C. have opened doors for her career. Justin Narducci, Director of Partnerships and Resources at Life in Abundance (LIA), heard about Ruf’s work on the Sudan development project and, with a recommendation from HIU professor Roberto Sirvent, agreed to meet with her. That turned into an internship for Ruf with LIA, which then became a part-time paid job. “I feel very fortunate to have a job that I enjoy before I even graduate,” Ruf said. “I wouldn’t be at Life in Abundance if it wasn’t for D.C.”

Ruf had a simple reply when asked if she would encourage other students to study abroad: “GO!” “It can be intimidating stepping out into the unknown – but it will be so worth it!”

Jessica Ruf Study Abroad

For a list of current study abroad opportunities, please click here.

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