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Study-abroad trip changes student's perspective and academic goals

One of the benefits of attending college is that it allows students to explore different majors and programs while considering future plans and careers. Students don't always enter college certain of their area of study, and Jessica Langdon, '18, initially declared a major in psychology, taking several classes in the department for her first year-and-a-half. However, after studying abroad in Guatemala during Jan Term 2016, Langdon changed the course of her studies.

Jessica sits on a bench somewhere on campus and smiles.

"I was given the opportunity to travel abroad with Whitworth to Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, on a Spanish-language-immersion trip," Langdon says. "We studied Spanish for five hours a day in a small language school, and my former high school passion for the Spanish language was reinvigorated. After returning from Guatemala, I wholly re-evaluated my education at Whitworth. I knew I was passionate about learning the Spanish language and connecting with native Spanish speakers. It was obvious to me that I needed to invest my time at Whitworth building these language skills and learning more about Latin American culture."

Shortly after this change, Langdon also decided to study philosophy, becoming a double major in philosophy and Spanish.

"The addition of a philosophy major did not come as comfortably," Langdon says. "I continually doubted my abilities to participate in such an analytical major and felt oddly selfish for desiring to spend my college years in a discipline that had the misinformed reputation of being impractical. However, I ultimately came to the conclusion that I would learn about what I loved, even if I perceived societal backlash. And so I went for it!"

Although the changes were unexpected, Langdon has embraced her chosen areas of study.

"When I study philosophy, I know that I am doing what best fits me, and I have found that this path of study has led me to develop new interests in feminism and issues of social justice," Langdon says. "I view philosophy and Spanish together as majors that help cultivate foundational skills, which I truly value. With philosophy, I am learning how to think and read critically, analyze arguments, and investigate the ethical and metaphysical foundations of topics and issues that affect our society today. With Spanish, I am building a method in which I can communicate, connect and become informed culturally."

In addition to her double major, Langdon is pursuing minors in psychology, theology and Latin American studies. She is also a part of the George Whitworth Honors Program. Langdon is still evaluating her post-graduation plans, and she has an internship set up in Nicaragua for spring 2018.