Elyse Legeay (Class of 2021)

photo of Elyse Legeay

  • junior major in International Studies, with a Global & Intercultural Studies co-major
  • from Cleveland, OH
  • University Academic Scholar in Global Studies
  • interned abroad in Kosovo (Summer 2019); studying abroad in Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia (Spring 2020)
  • College of Arts and Science ambassador and Scholar Leader
  • member of Miami's Circle K International chapter and Model Arab League
"Choose a major that you're passionate about — don't just do it for the 'marketable' skills. Also, connect with your professors, who are always there and are a great resource. They're an awesome group of academics who are passionate about their students!"

Why Miami?

"One of my favorite things about Miami is the faculty. The professors in my major are incredible; I have really close relationships with a lot of them and feel that they care about what I'm doing. Additionally, it's really cool to see, especially with my international studies major and global and intercultural studies co-major, how people can have vastly different interests and concentrations and classes yet still be under one umbrella.

"First semester freshman year I took my first international studies class with Dilchoda Berdieva, a lecturer in the Department of Global and Intercultural Studies (GIC). Although I had already declared myself as an international studies major, her class solidified that this is what I want to do. It was really nice to know right off the bat that I had found my place!"

Best Miami Experiences

Elyse Legeay and teammate at the National Model Arab League conference in Washington DC (Spring 2019)

"I feel like I'm always learning and growing at Miami, both as a student and as a person. My classes challenge me to look beyond myself and see the bigger picture. I've also made a lot of really amazing friends, a lot of whom are in my majors. It's been so amazing to do what I love with them by my side.

"I studied abroad in Kosovo last summer, where I got to really connect with professor of global and intercultural studies Carl Dahlman and the other students on the program. I also bonded well with my host mother and the organization, Balkan Sunflowers Kosovo, that I had the opportunity to intern with while I was there. I'm still in contact with my host family and people from my internship and those relationships I built have helped me grow as a person and value and respect other people's perspectives.

"This year I had the honor of serving as president of an organization called the Refugee Advisory Council. The people I have met, the work and activism I have participated in, and the knowledge I have gained have simply grown my passion for working with refugees. The experience has shown me my career path involving activism or case work."

Miami and the Liberal Arts

"Everything that I'm learning in my international studies major—because it's so interdisciplinary—is helping me feel confident in whatever position I end up in. International studies and GIC are very critical thinking-oriented fields, so I work a lot at understanding different perspectives and how things impact each other. I think coming out of Miami undergrad with that mindset will be really useful.

"My coursework is all-encompassing in and out of the classroom. I've learned so much about so many different parts of the world, which has been so insightful and immensely helpful in all my classes. But beyond that, I'm learning a lot of really valuable skills — not just the knowledge base, but also enhancing skills that are applicable in any discipline. International studies and global and intercultural studies give me critical thinking, writing, and researching skills that I can then market to potential employers."

Working with Minority Children in Kosovo

Elyse Legeay above Lisbon, Portugal

"Kosovo is a small Eastern European country where I spent an amazing 6 weeks of classes and internship work last summer. It was incredible to learn about an area of the world I didn't really know about. The people were kind and thoughtful, and the fact that I got to live with a host family simply added even more to the experience.

"For my internship I worked with Balkan Sunflowers Kosovo, which is a local non-profit that helps mediate with and educate minority children. The organization is really passionate about giving these children an education, and it was humbling to work with them. I helped them with research and statistics to develop a program that would work for them in data management and reporting. I also helped them put together their 2018 annual report, building it up with the statistics and growth they had seen.

"My experiences in Kosovo for this internship showed me that I am capable of living in foreign country; I can explore and adapt to new cultures and am excited to learn about them. The internship especially made me realize that I want to work more in the realm of adolescents and children. I feel like it's a really important field to go into, especially with children who are immigrants and refugees. I want to show them that there are resources available and that they have a future even if it doesn't feel like they do in that moment.

"Going to a small country like Kosovo was very eye-opening. Now that I've been there, I better understand the events happening in the country and its surrounding region. I can read an article about Kosovo and know its historical significance, which always gives me a small moment of joy."

Advice to Students

"Choose a major that you're passionate about — don't just do it for the 'marketable' skills. Look at your passions, because that's going to translate into the skills you can use for jobs. As I learn these skills I'm hoping for one particular career, I realize it's not the only career I can go into because there are so many different options. Be sure to go into something that you love, and then opportunities will come to you.

"Also, connect with your professors, who are always there and are a great resource. They're an awesome group of academics who are passionate about their students!"

[January 2020]