Oh, the places you’ll go: graduating senior Angel Menendez travels the world
Angel Menendez hangs out at the community center in Yunganza, Ecuador. He traveled there as part of an FDU-sponsored service-learning trip in January 2014. (Photo courtesy of Menendez)
By Catherine Krawiec
Angel Menendez, 22, caught the travel bug at a young age. He visited El Salvador multiple times with his family (his parents are originally from there) and grew up knowing both American and El Salvadorian cultures. As Menendez started looking at colleges, he knew that being able to travel would be a deciding factor; Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Florham Campus was the perfect match because of the many global and study abroad opportunities it offers.
A member of the Class of 2014, Menendez will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. In the fall he will student teach, and go on to pursue his master’s in teaching in FDU’s five-year undergraduate and graduate program
During his undergraduate years, Menendez was an EOF Student; a member of the SGA, serving as vice president of communications; a math tutor; and a brother and the treasurer of Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity.
Menendez also took advantage of FDU’s study abroad options and service-learning trips. In fall 2011, he spent the semester at Wroxton College. “It was the reason I came to FDU,” he says. “I had planned on going to Wroxton every since I was accepted.”
Besides studying abroad for a semester, Menendez also went on two service-learning trips to Latin America. In 2013 he went to Manzanillo, Costa Rica and in 2014 he went to Yunganza, Ecuador
for a week during winter break. While in Costa Rica, Menendez and the other students helped spruce up a school. They cleaned the school, painted, added a large bench and improved the jungle gym.
“The service trips really helped me grow as a person. Most people don’t know how big the world really is and when you get that culture shock you realize how much you can really do.” Angel says “While there, we realized how isolated certain parts of the world are and we were able to give the city the help they needed and boost the local tourism economy.”
During Menendez’s second service trip, the group worked to preserve a local community center each morning, which is a place for the indigenous Shuar people to practice ancient rituals. In the afternoons, the group taught English to schoolchildren in Limon.
“You could tell that the Shaur really appreciated all of the help we were doing. But it was good for us, too; it was a reality check.”
Besides being great experiences, Menendez says the service learning trips — and all the opportunities he took advantage of at FDU — will help him in the future.
“All of the different clubs and organizations I was a part of helped me deal with the social aspect of life on a global perspective,” notes Menendez. “I learned that people can come from anywhere, and knowing about different cultures has prepared me for my career in teaching. I will be able to better relate my experiences to kids who come from all different backgrounds.”
Editor’s Note: Read the story on Menendez’s Ecuador trip here.