My name is Julio Cazares and I am a current Senior at UNC Charlotte. Recently, I was able to study abroad for a semester in Valencia, Spain, which was something I have always wanted to do but didn’t think was possible as an adult student. It was with the help of my advisor, Dr. Richard Leeman, OASES, The Office of Education Abroad, and the Ziegler Scholarship that I was able to make my dream a reality!
My educational journey began in 2014 when I realized I was ready for a change in my life and that it was the perfect time to head back to school. At the time, I was working for a property management group in Uptown Charlotte, but I had quickly reached my limit within the organization. I knew that an education was the key to my future success. I always assumed that my education was going to be different from a traditional student, and after attending my SOAR orientation, I knew I was right! I saw how amazing UNC Charlottes campus was, but what I didn’t see right away was other adult students. Thankfully, OASES was there with an Adult Student information session. I learned about how scholarship opportunities, community meet ups, and academic support programs, like the UCAE, Math-Lab, and Writing Resource Center, could help me to succeed at UNC Charlotte.
Since that day, I’ve had the chance to connect with many adult students and faculty across campus, and it’s made all the difference. OASES has given me the confidence to succeed, and that confidence has been rewarded as I’ve been lucky enough to receive both the OSHER Reentry Scholarship and the James S. McCormack Rotary Scholarship, scholarships offered through OASES that are aimed at giving adult students, like you and I, a chance at succeeding in their collegiate education. These academic successes drove me to want even more out of my time here at UNC Charlotte, so it was in my Junior year that I decided I wanted to complete a summer semester abroad -- I just wasn’t sure how to make it possible!
As an adult student, I have often faced the “normal” challenges we adult students can have, like family obligations, work-life balance, a mortgage, and other unique problems, and for a moment I wasn’t sure if these challenges would prevent me from studying abroad. Some of my friends said I was too old to do it, other thought that I had too many responsibilities at home to leave, but I knew that wasn’t the case! It took some careful planning, applying for the Ziegler Scholarship, and personal determination, but it was all worth it when I was finally able to study abroad. My partner Tim and I knew it would be a difficult challenge to take our family to Valencia, Spain, but we made it happen. With the support of our friends, family, and work, we were able to figure out how to make studying abroad work for us. Not only was I able to stay on track with my coursework, I was also able to experience an amazing educational opportunity.
As an adult, I hope the unique challenges you face never make you feel like you can’t participate in educational opportunities like studying abroad. These opportunities are just like when we all decided to go back to school, you just have to figure out how to make it work! As an adult student, you can do so much while you’re at UNC Charlotte. There are so many experiences, opportunities, and rewards waiting for you, all you have to do is try!