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Blean Girma '17 and two other CAPA recipients helping out at a local clinic in Buenos Aires.

Reaching goals through study abroad

Students who return from a study abroad experience offer this advice: Do it before you graduate. This summer, one Mount Saint Mary’s University student did just that—thanks to the school’s partnership with CAPA the Global Education Network. 

Senior Blean Girma ’17 had always dreamed of studying overseas but felt the nature of her major in biology kept those dreams dormant as most of her time was spent as a lab technician’s assistant, cellular biology instructor, and researcher. With a growing interest in global affairs and public health, she was determined to broaden her education abroad. A sign was all she waited for. 

That sign came in the form of an e-mail from CAPA offering Mount students an opportunity to attend the “Comparative Healthcare Systems Global Seminar” in Buenos Aires, Argentina, for the summer. Without hesitation, Girma submitted her application. 

The seminar offered students opportunities to learn in and outside of classrooms. Lectures on public health, global health, and health insurance followed visits to local clinics and hospitals. Girma said a visit to a maternity clinic an hour away from Buenos Aires was one of the most memorable experiences of the trip. She shares: 

The publicly owned clinic was the only one available for women in that neighborhood and nearby communities to get pre-natal care, labor and delivery, and check-ups. The way medical professionals continued to work as efficiently as possible with all they had has left an impression on me. The visit has inspired me to get involved with global medicine and health in assisting institutions such as these. 

Girma adds that her experience not only confirmed that she was on the right career path, but it helped her appreciate cultural differences. Inspired by what she learned and what she experienced in Buenos Aires, she hopes to join the board of Global Health Initiative, a nonprofit organization that promotes equity in healthcare. 

“I hope to apply my knowledge in the biological sciences to improve public health within underserved communities in the United States and globally,” says Girma. 

To learn more about CAPA Study Abroad programs and internships available to Mount students, contact the Study Away office at 310.954.4070 or

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