Liberal Arts student embraces facets of international program

Extensive travel creates memorable experiences and opportunities

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Photo by A. Sue Weisler

Elyse Jurutka, a fifth-year international studies major and peer mentor, meets with two of her mentees to assess their progress. During her time at RIT, Jurutka has studied four languages and completed a co-op in Argentina.

International studies encompasses a host of subjects from sociology to political science to economics to languages and linguistics, and strives to increase our understanding of how different cultures and nations interact with each other and the subsequent effect on our interconnected world.

Throughout her four years studying at RIT, Elyse Jurutka, an international studies major in the College of Liberal Arts, has sought to develop a deeper understanding of all facets of the discipline—a journey that has included study in four languages and has taken her through the streets of Buenos Aires and to the banks of the River Plata in Uruguay. 

During her time on campus, Jurutka, a Hyde Park, N.Y. native, has studied Spanish, Portuguese, French and American Sign Language and hopes to enhance her language proficiency either in graduate school or the U. S. Foreign Service. In addition, she serves as a peer mentor for the international studies program, providing academic assistance and social support to both first-year and upper-class students.

“I was originally interested in Spanish but ultimately chose international studies because it gave me the opportunity to enhance my skills in multiple languages, while providing broader training in the sociological, cultural and political aspects of international relations and foreign policy,” Jurutka says. 

“The program also requires students to study in a foreign nation, which has provided me with the chance to immerse myself in a different culture and get a real taste for how international relations works in practice.”

Last summer, Jurutka conducted a cooperative-education assignment with Edu Argentina in Buenos Aires. The organization brings foreign students to the country for educational tours and study-abroad opportunities. Jurutka served as a translator, worked on the corporate Web site and assisted in writing promotional materials. She also taught English to Argentinean adults and participated in several trips including a visit to the River Plata region of Uruguay.

“Buenos Aires is a modern, cosmopolitan city with tremendous cultural, educational and economic opportunities that are on a par with any American metropolis,” notes Jurutka. “But the nation’s knowledge of America, and our knowledge of Argentina, is based less on fact and more on what we see on television. It is my hope that greater education and cultural understanding can shorten the divide between nations and increase opportunities for partnership and collaboration.”

Jurutka stresses that RIT’s combination of experiential learning and the opportunity to advance her liberal arts instruction with first-class technical training has greatly enhanced her international studies education, overall college experience and preparation for the future.

“Being a liberal arts student at a technical school has been a wonderful experience, and has given me a diverse and well rounded set of skills that will give me a leg up in whatever career path I choose,” she adds.