International Development Grad Eyes the East
International Development major Jaime Sepulveda has traveled throughout Europe, but she’s about to embark on a journey to immerse herself in a culture significantly different from her own.
“I’m interested in Southeast Asia,” Sepulveda said. “It’s a completely foreign culture.”
Sepulveda was selected for the Japan Exchange and Teaching program, aimed at promoting grass-roots international exchange between Japan and other nations. She will train in Tokyo and serve a one-year term as an assistant English teacher in the Miyazaki-ken prefecture on the island of Kyushu in Japan.
Sepulveda’s career goals include public policy and becoming a political analyst.
“Participating in the JET Program or any other international experience I pursue will give me a broader perspective on the ways countries interact and view each other,” Sepulveda said. “Teaching abroad will also give me insight into education systems that are different from the United States, which will be allow me to broaden my public policy career to also include education policy.”
Sepulveda is one of 323 undergraduates and 747 graduate students graduating during the 62nd Commencement Ceremony beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 12 at Reliant Arena, One Reliant Park. She is part of a legacy family of UST, joining her father, Jaime Sepulveda ’75, and her sisters, Yvette Chodrow and Jessica Calleo ’02, who also attended the University.
Sepulveda had previously applied to be a Fulbright scholar to teach English in Taiwan, and made it as far as being accepted by the U.S. Fulbright committee. Sepulveda said her interest in Asia began with an independent study with Dr. Hans Stockton, associate professor and director of the Center for International Studies, when she researched the national identity of Taiwan, evaluating how they view themselves compared to how other countries view them.
Stockton said Sepulveda has been an active member of the Center for International Studies and made numerous contributions to the life of the University.
“She has already amassed an impressive resume of service work as part of and separate from her activities as a student at UST,” Stockton said. “Her academic performance is impeccable, and she has been an invaluable student leader of the International Studies Society.”
“I’ve enjoyed having the professors I’ve had, and the relationships I’ve built with them,” Sepulveda said. “They’re really good mentors. They all pushed me and helped me believe in myself a lot more.”
Sepulveda studied abroad in London in spring 2010, and got a sense of learning about another country’s culture, and herself. “Before I went to London, I thought of myself as independent and confident,” she said. “Going across the world by myself gave me a new kind of independence and confidence.”
Sepulveda held an internship in spring 2011 with the Houston Office of Protocol and International Affairs, which handles the relations between the City of Houston and the Consular Corps, and she attained an ExxonMobil Community Summer Job with the Center for Houston’s Future in 2011.
As president of the International Studies Society, Sepulveda plans events like the I-Fest: International Festival, alumni speakers and Taste the World, which includes monthly visits to international restaurants in Houston, such as Ethiopian, Brazilian and Pakistani restaurants.
Last year, Sepulveda was the president of Sigma Iota Rho, the international studies honor society, and recently, she has volunteered with the Partnership for the Advancement and Immersion of Refugees, helping to organize a college day at UST.
“It was an international studies-type of experience here in Houston,” she said.
Sepulveda said her experience with internships, campus clubs and volunteering off campus have helped her apply many of the skills she learned at UST.
“Particularly in internships, my ability to do research, write well, and think critically and creatively have helped me succeed,” she said. “For being involved on campus and volunteering, the intercultural awareness that I have gained from international studies has helped me be culturally sensitive and get along with people of various backgrounds.”
Sepulveda said she is excited about traveling to Japan.
“I feel that learning about other cultures helps you learn about your own culture,” she said. “It should definitely be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
View a video about the Center for International Studies that includes Jaime Sepulveda.