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Student Profile

Determination Turns Dreams to Reality

As forces pushed Vanessa Rothfels away from her travel hopes, determination to experience life out of Provo before her ever-looming graduation date arrived led her to discover the great variety of people and culture in Europe. Rothfels felt the urge to travel early on in her BYU experience, but despite several attempts, each experience she considered fell through.

As a sophomore, she applied for the Jerusalem program, but despite acceptance into the program, she never felt it matched her interests and gave up the idea in search of something better. Less than a year later, thoughts of discovering unknown places resurfaced, and she revisited her hopes to go abroad by applying for the London program.

Thrilled at being accepted, the program costs caused another postponement. Half-way through her junior year, Rothfels concluded that no matter the costs, studying abroad was worth any sacrifice she would have to make. She took on a second job and began her search to find the perfect study abroad by looking into the London program. The more research she did, the less she felt it suited her, feeling that if she was going to Europe, she wanted to see as much of it as possible and not be limited to a single country.

It took time, but her determination paid off when she found the Global Diplomacy program—an academic adventure in eight European countries. In most study abroad programs, students have a central location they stay in for the majority of their time abroad. Global Diplomacy students live out of a suitcase as they travel from country-to-country weekly—this was nothing short of dreamlike for Rothfels.

In addition to the seven countries she visited as part of the program, she added a weekend in London, fulfilling a long-held desire. Beginning in New York, the program led students on a journey through Brussels, Paris, Geneva, Vienna, London, Salzburg, Istanbul, and Amsterdam. In each country, the group stopped at UN offices to interview Foreign Service officers.

Rothfels and her fellow students received a behind-the-scenes look at foreign governments as they interviewed and worked with a wide spectrum of individuals involved in policies and projects within the United Nations. Determination, hard work, and refusing to settle for a mediocre experience led Rothfels to discover Europe firsthand and realize that when something is truly important to you, nothing should stand in your way.