When international student Maria Espinosa came to the University of Illinois Springfield from Colombia to play on the UIS women’s golf team, she knew she would grow as an athlete. However, she didn’t know she’d become a leader on campus.
Espinosa, a biology major, is a science peer tutor at The Learning Hub where she mentors fellow students. This past summer, she went on a study abroad trip to Ghana, West Africa where she helped to conduct important public health research.
“We did three projects within the communities,” she said. “The first project was water quality research, which I was highly involved with, since I’m a biology major.”
She encourages any student who gets the opportunity to take advantage of studying abroad.
“It definitely teaches you a lot about yourself, about other people and it pushes all of the boundaries or expectations that you have,” she said.
On the golf course, Espinosa has been a leader on her team, participating in super regionals since her freshman year. This year her goal is to help take her team to nationals.
“I’ve been playing golf since I was 7-years-old and it has been part of my life since as far as I can remember,” she said. “It’s a sport that gave me the discipline that I need in my everyday life.”
As an international student, coming to UIS from a foreign country, Espinosa says she has always felt welcome in Springfield.
“I could describe my experience at UIS as feeling like home,” she said. “Even though this is not my home country, completely different language and culture, I always felt welcomed by the community, by the university, all of the faculty and staff.”
Following graduation from UIS, she plans to earn her master’s degree in biomedical sciences with a specialization in clinical microbiology and immunology.
“I think coming to UIS was one of the best decisions I’ve made for my career and my personal growth,” she said.