Greta Cortez, Korean
Greta is an alum of the 2020 and 2021 summer Korean programs. She is a current student at Johns Hopkins University, where she is double majoring in international studies and economics with a minor in East Asian studies.
South Korea stood out to Greta due to its vibrant culture, cuisine, and media. From studying with a private teacher to attending a children’s Korean school in a local church, she avidly sought out opportunities to improve her language skills and engage with a language she describes as “beautiful to my eyes and ears.” This determination only increased after her overseas NSLI-Y experience, using the resilience and knowledge she gained from her time in South Korea to complete all the language courses that her university offered by the end of her sophomore year. Greta believes that her time in NSLI-Y turned her passion for Korean into a passion for pursuing a career that worked to further US-South Korea relations, and notes that she will never forget the relationships she built with her cohort, based on mutual passion for language, and seeing the contrast between the popularity and solemnity of the Demilitarized Zone.
Greta’s passion for Korean culture and international affairs led her to apply for the Charles B. Rangel Summer Enrichment Program with the hopes of learning more about career opportunities in government. The program helps to prepare undergraduate students for future careers in government and international affairs. Participants spend six weeks taking courses aimed at enhancing knowledge and skills relevant to US foreign policy and economics and visiting various internationally oriented agencies and institutions. In preparing for this program, Greta found herself continuing to use not only the language skills but also the adaptation and diplomacy skills that she gained on the NSLI-Y program. Now she finds that the Rangel program proved to be just as memorable and impactful of an experience: “The ability to learn in detail so much about a variety of career paths in international affairs while establishing a network with the professionals you meet during the program blew me away. The family I have been able to make with my cohort is another highlight. Taking classes together and touring the hallways of government institutions together has formed close and lasting bonds that I am very grateful for.”
When asked about advice for other NSLI-Y alumni interested in Rangel and similar scholarships, Greta had one simple tip: "Tell them your why.” She would highlight how unique experiences like NSLI-Y “have been able to shape you into who you are now.” She also highly recommends the Charles B. Rangel Summer Enrichment program as a life-changing experience for those looking to grow professionally and personally.