“The character and patience I gained while learning to adapt to a foreign country are virtues that will always help me through new experiences.”
Most students hope to gain first-hand knowledge of other cultures by studying for a semester in another country through one of Florida State’s several international programs. Breyda Ortega did the opposite; she came to Florida State.
A native Panamanian, Breyda found it a challenge to “live away from family and friends for the first time and to get used to a country and culture that was so foreign.” She began her college career in her native country at FSU-Panama, where classes were small and “all the professors knew you by your first name.” For her junior year, she transferred to the main campus, where nearly 39,000 students attend classes.
Breyda dove into her classes, becoming an Honors in the Major student. Before her graduation in August, she will put the finishing touches on her thesis, “CB1 Gene Expression in the Ipc Nucleus of the Developing Chick.” In April, she presented this work at three separate undergraduate research symposiums—Florida State University, Clemson University, and the University of South Florida, where she was awarded third place in the Social Sciences poster category. Breyda gives a lot of credit to her thesis advisor, Dr. Richard Hyson, who, she says, “has incredible teaching skills.”
If you want to become part of a community, Breyda believes, you can do that by helping its members. She joined FSU Today (For Sexual Understanding Today), an organization that tackles students’ sexual health issues. She and other members held informal discussions in residence halls, where students could express their doubts and raise questions about birth control and sexually transmittable infections.
After graduation, Breyda plans to work for a year as a lab technician in Dr. Thomas Houpt’s Neuroscience Lab. Then, it’s on to graduate school. Will she succeed? Breyda knows she will. “The character and patience I gained while learning to adapt to a foreign country are virtues that will always help me through new experiences.”