Senior to Participate in Foreign Exchange Program

A University senior will be one of the 75 college students in the country to study in Germany through a federally-funded fellowship program.

Janine Flores, a Biology major, will participate in biological research and a two-month German language course as part of the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals program between the United States
and Germany. Since the program’s inception in 1984, 1,600 students have studied in different parts of Germany in their chosen field.

According to Flores, she came across the program through the Graduate Admissions Assistance Program, after looking through fliers and pamphlets. “I was just rummaging through everything they had,” she said. “This was eventually the one that I got into.”

Flores said that she has spent time abroad, mostly volunteering with the University. She said she found out about her acceptance to the fellowship while helping out on the Guatemala Plunge.

“I was looking through my e-mail in the airport and I saw that I got accepted,” she said. “It was nice because I was with a group of really supportive people.”

Flores said with the world economy in the state it is in, she was excited to find the possibility to do research. “It’s really hard these days to find places that let you do this kind of stuff right out of college,” she said. “You just have to put yourself out there to find it.”

Flores’ professor and mentor, Dr. Irvin Hirshfield, said he thought that her work outside of the classroom was the most important factor in her being accepted to the program.

“Janine has always been proactive in seeking fellowships,” he said in an email. “[She] is highly interested in extending her knowledge and skills through research, and displays the Vincentian spirit.”

Hirshfield praised Flores’ other volunteering efforts around the globe, and again said it reflected her Vincentian spirit.

“I would say that she is well rounded in that she’s a good classroom scholar, is interested in research and is empathetic to those who are less fortunate than she is,” he said. “This is the Vincentian side of Janine, and a reason that I am supportive of her efforts.”

Flores said that Dr. Hirshfield has assisted her greatly throughout her years at the University. She said she was surprised to develop such a strong relationship with him.

“He’s been very supportive and it’s overwhelming,” she said. “When you’re in a classroom that’s essentially an auditorium full of students, those kinds of relationships don’t usually develop.”

Hirshfield, however, said that Flores’ work has spoken for itself and takes little credit in her accomplishments.

“My only impact (hopefully) is that my recommendation letter played a role in her being awarded the Congress-Bundestag fellowship,” he said.

Flores said that while she didn’t know any German, she thought the experience of going to the country with limited knowledge of the language would be an interesting experience.

“It’s going to put me in my parent’s shoes,” she said. “They came to this country without knowing a word of English, so it’ll be the same thing for me.”

Flores said the program is just one example of what students were able to do after graduating, a problem she faced until being accepted into the program.

“People who don’t know what to do when they’re done with school should go to the GAAP and see what they’re offering,” she said. “They might end up getting something interesting.”