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AQUINAS SENIOR GAINS CROSS-CULTURAL EXPERIENCE THROUGH LOCAL INTERNSHIP

What's your major? The loaded question, asked of virtually every university and college attendee, usually demands a one-word answer that summarizes and stereotypes each complex four-year education. Senior Adam Hii, however, is unable to reply without a stunning tongue-twister.

As a triple major in political science, international studies, and Spanish, Hii has truly diversified both his education and job experience at Aquinas. Currently working in the AQ Career and Counseling office as well as participating in an internship at the YMCA, he has utilized his interest in language and culture to travel, work in community outreach, and develop his future career goals. Now, at the precipice of graduation, Hii is prepared to apply his three academic majors and his multi-cultural and international experiences to provide aid worldwide to those in need.

"The triple major was just something that grew over time," reflects Hii. As a freshman, he began to study political science yet soon added international studies because he "liked the interdisciplinary nature of the program." Already having two academic majors and a part-time job in Career and Counseling since the spring of 2008, Hii was attracted to yet another subject matter. Though he had enjoyed Spanish in high school, a lack of enrollment his senior year led to a discontinuation of studying the language.

However, as Hii explored international studies at Aquinas, he discovered that the language requirement for this field was significant and thus, inspired him to add Spanish as his third and final major in the spring of 2009. With three fields of study and a healthy appetite for extracurricular activities, Hii began to search for additional outlets which would peek his interest and further his education and career goals.

In the fall of 2009, the first semester of Hii's junior year, he attended a study abroad program in Spain and thus, began to consider a career in international work. After returning to the United States after a semester abroad, he began to search for internships that would correlate with his newly found interest. With the help of Career and Counseling and Service Learning Coordinator Eric Bridge, Hii applied for an internship at the Grand Rapids Hispanic Center and was quickly accepted in the spring of 2010.

At the Hispanic Center he served as a School Outreach Intern and whose duties included "acting as a liaison between the Hispanic Center, the Grand Rapids Public Schools, and parents of the youth in the program to provide educational incentives and tools to keep them engaged with academics and out of gang life." In addition, Hii was involved in the Supporting Our Leaders Program (SOL) at the center, which works with 20 current gang members each year who wish to make a positive change in their lives.

After this eye-opening internship, Hii wanted to continue his work in a cross-cultural capacity, and applied for an internship at the Grand Rapids YMCA in the fall of 2010. Currently, he works with multiple YMCA branches in an attempt to reach out to the Hispanic population through community based programs and activities. Hii is also involved in the World Service Project which seeks to gain funding for Grand Rapids' partner YMCA in Leon, Mexico.

The internship, as well as the job opportunity that will continue next semester, has enabled Hii to broaden his career focus while utilizing his three academic majors. Political science, international studies, and Spanish have each aided in his experience as he notes, "This internship has been a great opportunity to blend all three in the community and the world." Hii also remarks that "this opportunity has reinforced the underlying AQ stress on service since I am able to actively serve the community."

As Hii looks forward to graduation, he has considered the many options available to a diverse triple major, and is looking forward to a possible position in the Peace Corps. He reflects that his desire to work internationally in a variety of cultures as well as the opportunity to serve others attracted him to this particular organization.

"My interest in the Peace Corps stemmed from my desire to engage in more service and I felt that the international aspect of serving abroad really complimented my abilities and interests," Hii reflects, and adds, “I hope that the Peace Corps will provide me with the tools needed to educate others on worldwide conditions of poverty and inequality while showing the tools available to help those conditions.” After four years, three majors, and two internships, Hii anxiously awaits the culmination of his education and the commencement of a service-oriented and fulfilling career.