By: Nick Santangelo

Temple students don’t just come from all over—they also go all over. Senior Dylan Arturo knows this as well as anyone. When Arturo came to Temple from Croton-on-Hudson, a village near New York City, he wasn’t completely sure what he wanted to do with his life. It’s a predicament many incoming freshmen can relate to, and one not everyone has fully solved by commencement, but that’s OK.

A few months from graduation, Arturo is still figuring it all out, but the opportunities he’s gotten through Temple continue to help him find his eventual path. A Biology major in his first year, Arturo quickly realized he needed to shift gears and become a dual major in Spanish and Global Studies with a minor in Community Development.

“I really didn’t like Biology very much,” recalls Arturo. “It was the first or second year they created Global Studies, and I’ve always been interested in global affairs—my mom is an immigrant from Australia. It’s really a godsend to have this major where you learn so many different disciplines in a global context for somebody like me who didn’t exactly know what he wanted to do.”

students posing for photograph

It’s a challenging workload, but Arturo has been more than up to it, even finding time to be an Honors Ambassador for the College of Liberal Arts. How does he juggle it all? There’s no secret to his success, just hard work.

“I just kind of do it. Just power through,” he says. “I will say, it’s a lot easier when you’re doing something you actually like. When I was a Biology major, it wasn’t necessarily more work, but if it’s work you don’t care about, that you can’t see yourself doing later, it’s a lot harder than things that actually interest you.“

What are those interests? Part of why Arturo chose Temple was to be in Philadelphia, knowing he’d interact with people from all over the world here in the nation’s sixth-largest city. “You see people from every walk of life,” he explains. “You walk down the street and hear so many different languages, see people from all over the world.”

Choosing a college town over the big city was never an option. Arturo wanted to see the world come to him. He also wanted to go out and see it himself. That’s part of why he added Global Studies as a second major when changing majors from Biology to Spanish. Studying abroad was a goal of his before even starting college, and Global Studies requires a semester overseas. That brought Arturo to the city of Oviedo in northern Spain.

traveling students posing for photograph

“Spain’s a wonderful country. I think studying abroad should be more emphasized in American Universities. In Europe they have a higher emphasis on people from all over the world traveling and studying and living somewhere else. It fosters cultural awareness. I think it’s so valuable to live in a different country and be exposed to different customs. It’s a huge world with many different types of people.”

Arturo’s favorite part of the experience was living with a Spanish family. He describes Spaniards of, in some ways, being like Americans: very welcoming and very loud.

Back here in North Philly, Arturo continued exploring something else that’s long interested him, a passion that pairs well both with traveling the world and with his majors. Arturo’s father had done work with the Peace Corps in West Africa in the 1980s, inspiring his son to get involved with nonprofit or non-governmental organization work.

Apparently not busy enough with two majors, a minor, being an Honors Ambassador and studying abroad, this led Arturo to get involved with a charitable group called Grassroot Soccer. A big soccer fan, Arturo was drawn to the organization because it uses the sport to raise awareness among youths about health concerns like HIV/Aids.

Additionally, Temple’s career development service, the Owlnetwork, helped the ambitious Arturo land three different internships. Each one was with a non-profit organization (Philadelphia READS, Alliance for Ethical International Recruitment Practices and Philadelphia Community Corps) that allowed him to do work he enjoyed. A major focus of his internships was grant writing, which was a great fit because Arturo loves to write. And while his future is still wide open, Arturo says the internships gave him a chance to figure out some things he definitively does and doesn’t like.

You can make your degree valuable

For instance, he doesn’t want to go directly into a desk job after graduating, and he’s not going to. He sees his career eventually heading in one of two directions: working for a foreign service in a sort of diplomatic role or helping to fight international poverty with an NGO. In the immediate future, however, Arturo will serve in the Peace Corps in Colombia. While he’s off following his dad’s footsteps in the Peace Corps, he has some advice for incoming Temple students about following his own path.

Traveling students looking at mountain vista

“I would say, don’t listen—maybe listen, but don’t necessarily follow people who say you have to pick a marketable degree,” advises Arturo. “You can make your degree valuable by doing work with organizations that you care about, organizations that do good work.

“The experience you get out of the classroom is, in my case, sort of what makes your resume. You have your own life to learn very specific, specialized skills, and if you know you want to do that, that’s OK. But if you’re someone like me, something like Global Studies is very useful because it’s sort of a sampler of all sorts of different things, and then you can craft your own education curriculum through the work you do out of the classroom.”

In other words, “Your degree is really as valuable as you make it.”

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