Stephanie Corrigan, Turkish

Stephanie is an alum of the 2014 NSLI-Y Turkish Summer Program in Ankara, Turkey. She attended the University of California for her undergraduate studies and is currently enrolled in a Master's program for International security at Sciences Po in Paris, France.

It has been 9 years since I went abroad with NSLI-Y. As long ago as my summer in Ankara, Turkey was, the lasting impact of those weeks abroad have continued to shape my present moment. As a junior in high school, I was eager to learn foreign languages and explore a new region of the world, as I had only ever traveled to Western Europe. I was intrigued by Turkey and its unique position as a crossroad between Asia, Middle East, and Europe. I chose to study Turkish and apply for the NSLI-Y summer program in the fall of 2013, crossing my fingers and praying every prayer that I’d be selected to embark on what I viewed as a trip of a lifetime. And trip of a lifetime it was!

My time in Turkey marked me. It may come to seem embellished, but truly, I would not be where I am today without it. After my Turkish summer program, I ended up studying Political Science and Cultural Diplomacy at the University of Southern California. There, I enrolled in incredible courses on public diplomacy, Middle Eastern affairs, and intercultural communication. I continued to build upon the interest in languages, cultures, and foreign affairs that NSLI-Y nurtured in me. While attending USC in Los Angeles, a cosmopolitan city with much diversity, I took advantage of every opportunity offered to me to go abroad and challenge my expectations. Because of NSLI-Y, I had an advantage in my understanding of how these funded programs worked. I felt knowledgeable in pursuing more opportunities and scholarships, which opened doors to other globetrotting adventures in places such as India, Thailand, Spain, Morocco, and the United Kingdom. I received scholarships and funding for each of these in-country programs I participated in – and I really do believe my experience with finding and applying for NSLI-Y equipped me with the skills to seek out more.

After graduating from USC and working a few years in LA, I relocated to Paris, France in August 2022 to attend Sciences Po for my Master’s degree in International Security. I was fully funded by the Rotary Foundation and am currently in my second year of the program. Each of these aforementioned experiences involved interviews and essays, where I spoke to my global adaptability, tenacity, and enthusiasm for cross-cultural understanding, much of which was birthed on location in Ankara in 2014. Many interviewers also ask about the Turkish language program and are always impressed by the grit and curiosity it takes to go abroad at such a young age. As part of my second year at Sciences Po, I am given the option to intern for professional development purposes. Naturally, I had to bring all that I had been learning overseas back home to the U.S. I am currently interning at the U.S. Department of State in the Bureau of Near East Affairs. Although I am not working directly on Turkey-related issues here at State, I know that my time with NSLI-Y helped my application tremendously.

If you’re looking for a reason to participate in the NSLI-Y program, I could give you a thousand and one. I am grateful to this scholarship for how it shaped the trajectory of my life. This scholarship will provide you with invaluable firsthand experience in being flexible, open-minded, and compassionate toward another people group and culture. It will teach you patience, refine your communication skills, and build your confidence. I started solo traveling when I was 20, visiting places a variety of places such as Israel, China, Japan, and Italy, to name a few. I felt remarkably more confident in my ability to navigate new cities, languages, and cuisine after tackling such a welcome challenge back in high school.

Embarking on a NSLI-Y program isn’t easy and it’s not meant to be. It will grow you and develop you in ways you couldn’t have grown otherwise. You’ll make friends that last a lifetime (I’ve been invited to 3 weddings of close friends from the program!) and launch your career as a global citizen.