Stamps Scholar spends year in Ecuador
Brittany Barajas, junior in SHS and Spanish, is spending the year studying abroad in Quito, Ecuador, thanks in part to her Stamps Scholarship. The Stamps Scholarship is the most competitive undergraduate award offered at Illinois, with recipients getting their full cost of attendance for four years as well as up to $12,000 in enrichment funds to support study abroad, research, conference attendance and more.
Choosing to study in Quito was a natural decision for Brittany. The exchange program at La Universidad San Francisco de Quito provides her with the opportunity to study alongside native Ecuadorian students. She explains, "I really was determined to find a program where I could interact daily with native students so that I could really immerse myself in the local culture, befriend natives, and challenge my Spanish."
While there are many Spanish-speaking cities to choose from, Brittany was drawn to Quito for its significant indigenous Quechua population. "I am very interested in indigenous peoples' responses to colonization, and living in a very colonial city like Quito...would give me the opportunity to explore that topic of indigenous narratives in the colonial legacy."
Brittany is also involved in an internship at a public hospital in Quito. Under the supervision of a speech language pathologist, she provides individual and group speech language pathology (SLP) treatment in Spanish to adults recovering from traumatic brain injuries. Additionally, Brittany is investigating various treatment models. She remarks, "I am working with my supervisor to research the efficacy of partner-based SLP practices and SLP that incorporates patients' family members into the practices. Many quiteños (residents of Quito) are proud of their family-centered culture so the idea of incorporating family members into patients' treatment seems very culturally-relevant."
The highlight of Brittany's study abroad experience has been living with her Ecuadorian and Spanish college roommates. "We often are together exploring parts of Ecuador, spending late nights talking about life, dancing la bachata together, cooking bizarre meals with anything we find in our kitchen, and joking until we cry tears of laughter."