Study Abroad Student Representatives Bios

photo of a student with a columbian landscape in the background

Nmachi Anumba

Major: Biomedical Engineering
Contact: nca5078@psu.edu
Location: Equador

My name is Nmachi Anumba and I am a junior, double major in Biomedical Engineering and (now) Spanish. I went to Ecuador, South America for the spring semester of 2016 and absolutely loved it. It was hands down the best semester of my college career and one the best experiences of my life. I was able to travel to various parts of the country, do things I had never done before (white water rafting, zip-lining in a cloud forest, paragliding), fall in love with a different culture, eat lots of great food, meet incredible people, and learn a new language. My semester abroad is the reason that I can now double major in Spanish and helped me affirm that along with engineering, Spanish is something I want to pursue/something that can help me as an engineer. The reason I wanted to become a student rep is because I don’t want anyone else to forfeit this magnificent opportunity by buying into the lie that “engineers can’t study abroad.” I spent an entire semester abroad, have two majors, and am still going to graduate in four years. I want to show people that it can be done and help them get there!


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Emily Branstetter
Major: Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
Contact: exb5120@psu.edu
Location: Spain

I want to be a study abroad representative because I want to help and encourage students to consider the amazing opportunity and experience of studying abroad. I traveled to San Sebastian, Spain for an embedded two week Summer by Design engineering design course, May 2016. My favorite parts of this experience included interacting and learning from locals, practicing team problem solving with international classmates, and becoming a more independent, globally minded person.


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Gabrielle Briones
Major: Civil Engineering
Contact: gdb5111@psu.edu
Location: Ireland

I want to be a study abroad representative because I had so much fun abroad and I want other students to be able to have the same amazing experience I had! Study abroad was a major deciding factor for me when it came to picking colleges as a high school senior and a lot of schools said that study abroad with engineering is almost impossible. I’m glad that Penn State was not one of those schools, and I was easily able to mold it into my schedule without needing to worry about graduating on time or not taking the right classes. I studied abroad at the University of Limerick in Limerick, Ireland during Spring 2016. I have always loved traveling, and I had yet to explore Europe, so going to Ireland and experiencing a whole new world (the green is unique all in its own and it stays green even throughout the cold winter) was fantastic! While abroad, I was even able to go to multiple other countries, which is something I can’t say I do every day back home in America. Meeting new people, experiencing life differently, and exploring various cultures made me love my time abroad!


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Michaella Caruso
Major: Chemical Engineering
Contact: mmc5762@psu.edu
Location: China

I have always had a passion for exploration. This past summer, 2016, I spent a collective 28 days studying abroad throughout China. With this program, I was able to see everything from rural country life in Huangshan to high-end Westernized city life in Shanghai. It was such an eye-opening experience to be immersed in a culture so different than that of the United States. In this age of international business, having an abroad experience really differentiates you from your peers. Having a more global perspective will truly benefit you as an individual and in your professional career. I would highly recommend every student take advantage of the countless opportunities Penn State provides for students wishing to gain international experience. The world is your oyster, explore it!


college-aged man eating from a bowl with chopsticks

Abdoulaye Diallo
Major: Electrical Engineering
Contact: afd5223@psu.edu
Location: China

Hey! I’m Abdoulaye and this previous summer, I was fortunate enough to study abroad all over China. I was part of an embedded program within the College of Engineering and me and 40 other students got to explore the country. I really enjoyed this program, mostly due to the fact that it allowed me to get a full scope of the country. Rather than just staying in one region during my time there, we traversed throughout 8 different cities. In addition to this we also visited their educational institutions and big engineering companies as well as all the greatest sites and tourist destination. This made the month that we spent there feel like several and I got the full taste of the country (figuratively and literally; the food was sensational). I am excited to be a Study Abroad Representative because I want to share my experience with other prospective students interested in studying abroad. During my application process, there were a lot of things that I wish I’d known in terms of available programs, funding opportunities, what to do when I arrived, and etc. I want to be able to share the knowledge I’ve gained in these areas with other people so that their process can be much easier.


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Austin Fisher
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Contact: aof5218@psu.edu
Location: New Zealand

I’m extremely excited to be a study abroad representative this semester! I studied abroad in Auckland, New Zealand last semester, and can honestly say that my time spent there was the most awesome and mind-opening experience of my life. I got to live and study in an incredibly internationally diverse city during the weekdays, and during the weekends and breaks, I traveled all over one of the most beautiful countries in the world. I saw sights more beautiful than I thought I ever would and met people more interesting than I thought I ever would. My goal as a study abroad representative is to make sure as many people have this experience as possible because I know just how life changing it can be!


college-aged man wearing sunglasses standing on top of a large hill with a city showing down below

John Fodero
Major: Electrical Engineering
Contact: jtf5175@psu.edu
Location: Hong Kong

I studied at the University of Hong Kong in the spring semester of 2016. Hong Kong was a perfect fit for me because it is an extremely diverse city. There is a spectacular skyline and urban environment, but there is also lots of hiking, beaches, and outdoor activities all easily accessible. I also loved living in such a modern, developed, but cultural city. There was always somewhere new and exciting to explore! I was nervous before leaving because I did not know much about Hong Kong and I had many questions about the course equivalency process and whether or not the courses I wanted to take would fit my major. Being a representative would be a great opportunity for me to share this experience and promote the program to more students, hopefully making study abroad in Hong Kong more accessible to more students.


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Ryan Funk
Major: Chemical Engineering
Contact:rdf5168@psu.edu
Location: Spain

I want to be a representative because I am passionate about traveling and love to spread it. I think studying abroad is a fantastic opportunity to go somewhere you never thought you’d go and see some amazing things. I studied abroad in San Sebastian, Spain during the Summer of 2016 after my freshman year. It was a lot of fun working with local Spanish students as well as seeing some of the amazing parts of the local region of Spain and France. It was also a lot of fun going out and eating delicious local food around the town called Pintxos.


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Lucas Gramig
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Contact: lig5185@psu.edu
Location: France

I spent my semester abroad at Ecole Centrale Paris, located in a suburb of Paris. I left in January 2016 and returned that June. Those 5 months were some of the most exciting adventures of my life. I met people from not just Europe but from all over the world. We traveled to so many different destinations and I can honestly say that no two places were the same. Being exposed to so many different languages and cultures is something that many Americans don’t get the chance to experience in depth and I’m so thankful that I got the chance to do so. That type of diversity and exposure is something that I have always loved which is one of the reasons why I decided to become a study abroad representative. I hope that I can help students that are on the fence to make the leap in the experience of a lifetime. It’s a hard decision and having someone that has gone through it can be a great resource. Even when I was accepted into my exchange program, it would have been helpful to talk to someone for reassurance and advice. I’m looking forward to pass on the knowledge that I’ve gotten from my time abroad and have an impact on other students so that they can take full advantage of their experience.


college-aged woman wearing glasses sitting in the front seat of a car

Alyssa Grube
Major: Engineering Science and Mechanics
Contact: aeg5425@psu.edu
Location: China

I want to be a representative in order to help more Penn State students have excellent experiences that would give them great opportunities to broaden their horizons and learn more about the world. I went to China on the Impact of Culture on Engineering in China Program during May of 2016. I loved the program because I learned so much about the history and culture of China, and how that impacted the different fields of engineering in the country.


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Conor Kennedy
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Contact: cxk5244@psu.edu
Location: England

I studied at the University of Southampton in Southampton England in the spring of 2016. While abroad I had the pleasure of meeting so many interesting people from different places and traveled around Europe to amazing places that I never thought I would visit. The reason why I want to be a Study Abroad Representative is to help as many people as possible have the unbelievable experiences I did. Besides that, engineers in the 21st century will be required to work in an increasingly global workplace, and experiencing people and cultures abroad is a phenomenal way to prepare for that.


college-aged woman on the top of a hill with a beautiful mountain scene in the background

Joelle Khouri
Major: Chemical Engineering
Contact: jnk5186@psu.edu
Location: Germany

I spent the spring semester of my sophomore year (January-June 2015) in Freiburg, Germany, a beautiful city in the heart of the Black Forest. I studied at University College Freiburg, an English-language liberal arts school part of the University of Freiburg. My courses involved a lot of discussion and collaboration, and I observed and learned to work with people who had different world views and different opinions on how best to solve problems. These experiences have left me with a more open mind that will help me not only in my future classes here at Penn State but also in my future career as an engineer, which I hope will include time working abroad. Throughout my time in Germany, I became friends with people from all over the world. In addition to improving my German through a four-week long intensive German language course (and daily interactions with locals), I was able to travel across Europe during long weekends and breaks. Studying abroad was one of the best decisions I have ever made, and I believe that everyone would benefit by studying abroad, be it for a few weeks or for a semester. Studying abroad as an engineer can be a daunting choice, and I hope I can help others make a decision by sharing my own experiences.


college-aged man wearing glasses, standing in front of a small round, red door

Ryan Marks
Major: Biomedical Engineering
Contact: rim5410@psu.edu
Location: New Zealand and China

I spent the spring semester in 2015 at the University of Auckland, the largest university in New Zealand. While there, I took 4 classes including philosophy, US history, a biomedical engineering course, and a cell and molecular biology course. The best experiences, however, happened outside of the classroom where I was able to take two long road trips, one for 15 days and one for 8 days, as well as several weekend trips. I traveled from the northern-most tip to the southern-most tip of New Zealand, and along the way witnessed snow-capped mountains, lush rainforests, stunning waterfalls, glaciers, golden sand beaches, volcanic hotspots, and countless sheep. I was able to sky dive, kayak, explore the Shire movie set, and wonder at the Milky Way galaxy in some of the darkest skies in the world. Studying abroad for a semester helped me grow as a person. I came home feeling more confident in my ability to live and think independently, and I felt a drive to continue to travel and learn more about the world.

After my time in New Zealand, I decided to go abroad again, this time in China on the ENGR 118 program. This unique class through Penn State University took me through 9 cities in China including Beijing, Xi’an, and Shanghai. This experience was much different than my first time abroad, and the lessons I learned were less personal and more about China itself. Using the skills I gained from New Zealand, I was able to shorten the period of culture shock and spend more time learning the nuances of Chinese culture. This program gave me a completely new perspective on Chinese people and culture. Through these two incredible experiences, I was able to make the most of my time at Penn State and learn valuable lessons I couldn’t have gained from the classroom. I will build upon these lessons in my career and life.


college aged woman standing in front of a red phone booth

Jen Nowoswiat
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Contact: jvn5180@psu.edu
Location: England

My name is Jen Nowoswiat and I studied abroad in Southampton, England last spring. I went there because I knew I wanted to go somewhere in England or Ireland, and the program at Southampton was a perfect fit since it was close to a lot of places I wanted to travel to, and it had a great academic program that would not put me behind. I loved everything about my semester abroad, and I met so many new people and made lifelong friends. I learned about many different cultures in addition to the British culture because Southampton has a four-week spring break, during which I traveled all over Europe! The picture above is of me and a friend visiting London, which is an amazing city and only an hour away from Southampton by train! The reason I want to be a study abroad representative is because I want more engineering students to know it is very possible to study abroad even in our kinds of majors. I also did it so that I can answer any questions or concerns in hopes of persuading people to decide to study abroad so that they can have their own amazing experiences like I did.


college aged man standing on the top of a mountain

Brian Roda
Major: Bioengineering
Contact: bfr5034@psu.edu
Location: Ireland

I want to be a study abroad representative for the College of Engineering for a number of reasons but most importantly to provide a student’s perspective on how to make a study abroad semester feasible despite the rigorous course load that comes with engineering. Moreover, I was one of the few people in my major, Biological Engineering, to recently study abroad and therefore I have the opportunity to be a valuable resource to people in the same major who are interested in studying abroad. I studied Biosystems Engineering at University College Dublin in Ireland, a university ranked among the top 1% in the world. Between January and May of 2016, I not only traveled around Ireland but also to 11 other European cities. I’ve always loved the idea of traveling and this served as the perfect opportunity. I tried to take every opportunity I could to document the experience including updating a weekly blog, creating a video documentary of the places that I visited, and even being featured in the summer edition of the College of Engineering magazine. The memories that were made will last a lifetime and I want others to have the same great opportunity I did.


college aged man on top of hill with a body of water in the background

Eric Roig
Major: Civil Engineering
Contact: eyr5121@psu.edu
Location: New Zealand

My name is Eric Roig and I am a senior in Civil Engineering. This past spring, I had the pleasure of studying abroad at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. I had such an incredible experience meeting new people and seeing the country. Why I loved New Zealand is because of the amazing scenery you are able to see and be a part of. I was able to hike up volcanoes and mountains, relax on the beach, and walk through the rain forest all in the same country, and many times on the same weekend! I want to be a representative because I want everybody to be able to have an experience like mine, so they can learn so much about themselves and the world. I want to be there to help students through all the aspects of their planning, and give them whatever advice I can.


college aged woman holding up to canvases with chinese characters written on them

Stacy Weikel
Major: Nuclear Engineering
Contact: siw5332@psu.edu
Location: China

I never thought that I’d study abroad during my college career, but after going to China this past summer, it was one of the best decisions and notatable experiences that I have been a part of at Penn State. I traveled with a group of engineering students in several cities that include: Beijing, Dalian, Shanghai, etc.; and it was beyond eye-opening! Not only was I fully immersed in another culture for ~28 days; but I learned so much about how their culture impacts on engineering companies (and American-based too), student life in middle school and in college, and more. Nonetheless, my perspective of the world has changed, and I recommend that anyone should take advantage of the study abroad programs offered at Penn State before you graduate. Adventure awaits you.

 
 

About

The mission of Global Engineering Engagement is to create an environment that embraces the values of international education, where access to global exposure and opportunities to develop cross-cultural competence is pervasive. We believe that it is within our reach to ensure that all engineering students can become internationally engaged.

Global Engineering Engagement

College of Engineering

The Pennsylvania State University

208 Hammond Building

University Park, PA 16802