Jayne Orleans (Class of 2019)

photo of Jayne Orleans

  • junior International Studies, Latin American Studies, and Spanish triple major
  • minor in Political Science
  • from Alexandria, VA
  • studied abroad 4 times, joining programs in Cuba, Spain, Oman & UAE, and Peru
  • former member of Miami's Boxing Club
"Regarding study abroad, just do it. It's a fantastic opportunity, and Miami runs its study abroad program in a very easy and self-explanatory manner. There are many people here who are willing to help you."

Why Miami?

Jayne Orleans overlooks the Library of Congress in Washington, DC.

"Miami is my dad's alma mater, but because I'm from Virginia I really knew nothing about Miami. I was looking at a lot of schools on the East Coast, and my dad suggested that I apply to Miami because it's a great school for international studies. It's cheesy to say, but I fell in love as soon as I stepped onto the campus. I said to myself, 'Wow, this is where I want to spend four years!'

"I came in with a bunch of AP credits from high school and immediately took classes for all 3 of my majors: international studies (ITS), Latin American studies (LAS), and Spanish. They overlap enough and I've racked up enough credits that I was recently able to add my minor in political science!

"For my freshman year I stayed in Havighurst Hall's Emerging Leaders living learning community (LLC), run by the Wilks Leadership Institute, and it was amazing. Until then I'd never really interacted with people from the Midwest, and I found there's a tangible difference from the people I knew in Virginia. I got involved with a bunch of activities and organizations pretty fast, including the club boxing team. I had no boxing experience, but I've been an athlete my whole life and wanted to try something new.

"If it hadn't been for my advisor and senior lecturer of global and intercultural studies Melanie Zeigler, as well as a bunch of other professors and advisors from my freshman year, my Miami experience would have turned out completely different. I've become close to Dr. Ziegler and many others because of the strong connections that we made that first year, and this made me so much more comfortable transitioning to Miami and the Midwest.

"Ever since middle school I'd wanted to do something in international studies. I didn't even know that my dad was also an ITS major here until I declared that major — so I guess it runs in the family! My mom explained to me that my dad was excited that I was going to his alma mater but didn't want to pressure me in any direction, so it's just crazy how I naturally chose much the same path as he did."

Best Miami Experiences

"I've loved everything at Miami so far. It's been easy for me to feel that I have a place here. Freshman year I first joined boxing, then studied abroad in the middle of the year, then joined a sorority — and in every single one of those different experiences I made many friends that I still have to this day. If you put yourself out there into a new situation, someone is going to find you because other people are doing it too. Everyone wants to be a part of the community, so there are interesting pockets everywhere.

"On top of that, my advisors and professors have all made me feel like I have the power to do what I want here. I never thought I'd have three majors, but I've been given such confidence in my abilities that everything seems possible. As a junior I keep adding more experiences and don't ever want to leave.

"Study abroad has been my single favorite experience, and I've loved it so much that I've been lucky to do it 4 times! I have been to some amazing places: Cuba during J-Term 2016, Spain for the summer of 2016, Oman and the United Arab Emirates in J-Term 2017, and Peru in J-Term 2018. I feel that not enough people are able to or are interested in global experiences, but it's important to have an understanding of cultures other than your own. There's nothing more valuable than knowing how to work with different kinds of people by stepping outside your own culture — despite the many different rules and norms, you start seeing trends and patterns across them all. It has inspired me to do my best to be a genuinely good person and live my best life. I feel I'll be better prepared to help other people when I finally leave the Miami bubble.

"When I first met with Dr. Ziegler as my advisor about my declared major, I'd chosen diplomacy and global politics, but she suggested that I switch to ITS because it covers so many fields. I did so on the spot, and while she was helping me pick my classes she mentioned the Cuba trip, and I decided to apply as one of only two freshmen on that trip. She's so cool and loves teaching and helping people. She even recently hiked Machu Picchu with her daughter — she is who I want to be like!

"The reason I've become so close to Dr. Zeigler is because of her Cuba in Transition trip, which she runs along with senior lecturer Juan Carlos Albarrán. It was my first experience out of the country on my own accord and an experience that has changed my life. Seeing a place so different from ours and with so much history really drew me in and made me realize my love for travel. And after the Cuba trip, associate professor Walt Vanderbush, who runs the Latin American Studies program, reached out to me about adding that as a major! He's been incredibly supportive.

Jayne Orleans at the culmination of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route in Santiago de Compostela, Spain

"Another great faculty member, who I met in Spanish 315 for my very first class freshman year, was associate professor José Domínguez Búrdalo. I was terrified at first, because although I'd studied Spanish since the 8th grade and took AP courses, I was not confident at all. However, Dr. Búrdalo is such a really great person who makes students feel comfortable in the classroom.

"After a few weeks of class he asked me if I was interested in his summer program, Miami in Spain, and with his encouragement I decided to apply. It began in Gijón, where we took a number of classes, but our group also went on a cultural trip around all the major historical cities. We even visited Sevilla, where Dr. Búrdalo grew up, and I got to hang out with his kids! The summer finally culminated with the famous Camino de Santiago — 200 km of biking and 100 km of walking as we made our way to the Santiago de Compostela, in northwest Spain's Galicia region.

"Then, for J-Term 2017, I visited the Middle East with the Arab Gulf Economies in Transition group, led by assistant professor of comparative religion Nathan French. The focus is the region's movement from an oil-based economy into a more diversified and globalized region, and I have a lot of interest in how globalization affects the world. We went to Oman and the United Arab Emirates, including the big cities Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and spent time in Oman's beautiful countryside as well. We hiked, swam in a beautiful cave, and even slept in the desert. It was an unreal experience!

"Finally, for my 4th study abroad trip, I went to Peru during J-Term 2018. The focus was on geography and urban and environmental change, which was new to me but extremely exciting. We began our experience in Lima and investigated the different ways that the desert landscape and large-scale urbanization has affected the area and the people. After a few days in Lima, we spent the remainder of the trip in Cusco and surrounding areas, analyzing the differences between urban and rural communities and locations. Also, we got to visit Machu Picchu, which was just as beautiful and unbelievable as one would expect!"

Miami and the Liberal Arts

"Although I came in with a bunch of AP credits, none of them were in science, and at first I thought having to take 10 credits' worth of science was the worst thing ever! But I realized I have a love for conservation and environmentalism, and those were the classes that opened up new doors for me. I love learning, so having rigorous classes that provide me with new knowledge inspires me to share it with people.

"My Spanish 315 class, which I had my first semester as a freshman, was the first advanced Spanish class I'd ever taken, and it helped boost my confidence to go to Cuba and Spain and add my majors in Spanish and Latin American Studies. For the latter, I really knew nothing about Latin America, but the realness of everything I saw in Cuba inspired me to take more LAS classes. There's a rich history there that many people don't realize, and the depth of learning I gained about Latin America and the Caribbean, combined with my Spanish major, gave me a newfound passion for the entire region. It's also why I chose to go to Peru — I felt the need to return to that general culture!

"Last semester I took ITS 333, Global Development and Inequality, which is required for the ITS major and focuses on international economics. Although I'm not good at economics, the class was tied to the topic of globalization, which I'm very interested in, and assistant professor Jennifer Cohen is very, very cool. Instead of the scientific side of economics, she taught us more about the people side — how humanity has dealt with global economics throughout history.

"For a long time, with my international studies and Spanish background I considering joining the State Department to be a foreign service officer after I graduate, but it's difficult and overly political right now. Instead, I might take advantage of the TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certificate program, which I can do here at Miami, and joining the Peace Corps.

"Whatever I decide will not involve me being behind a desk — I want to get out there and interact with people, and there are many ways to do that with the skills I've gained. Overall, you can't go wrong with taking courses or getting a major in the College of Arts and Science — it has everything!"

Witnessing Transitional Economies Up Close

Jayne talks about two of her study abroad trips — "Cuba in Transition" and "Arabian Gulf Economies in Social Transition" — where she learned local history, culture, and globalization trends in nations undergoing significant socioeconomic changes.

Absolutely Amazing Video Transcript

Advice to Students

"First of all, major in international studies! Not enough people realize how important it is to have an understanding of our world. My dad is a banker, and he always said that the skills he learned as an international studies major have helped him to interact with all kinds of people daily and be a good member of society.

"Take the subject of immigration, for example. It's so much more complicated than building a wall. If more people understood that, we could at least have a better discussion. This goes for every region of the world, but because of the U.S.'s proximity to Latin America, there's a complicated history that many of us don't understand. Consider adding a language major or minor — it will only look amazing on anything you do for the rest of your life, and you will feel great about it.

"Second, regarding study abroad, just do it. It's a fantastic opportunity, and Miami runs its study abroad program in a very easy and self-explanatory manner. There are many people here who are willing to help you.

"And when you do travel abroad, try to fit in as much as you can. Doing so helps me understand who I am in my own environment, since I pull back and realize that my actions and how I interact with people is carried with me everywhere. By forcing myself to think of my behavior abroad, I learn about how I want to interact with people and present myself. It's just an amazing experience — there's nothing else like it!"

[March 2018]