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Meet Jasmine Sanchez

Call it a transformative experience.

That's how Jasmine Sanchez describes the impact of her MiraCosta College study abroad program in Spain, a program that enabled her to take weekend excursions to Morocco, France, Sweden and the Netherlands, all while enrolling in a full slate of courses that helped her transfer to UCLA last fall.

"It was the best thing I ever did," said Sanchez, who earned an associate degree in Spanish at MiraCosta, is seeking a bachelor's degree in Arabic and hopes to work as an FBI special agent. "You're living and traveling in a place you never thought you'd be and you find yourself thinking, 'wow, this is my life right now?' It changes you as a person. It opens you up."

Sanchez is among a small but growing number of MiraCosta College students who have taken part in the study abroad program that each year sends a dozen or more students to England in the fall and Spain in the spring.

Sanchez said she hadn't ventured much beyond Tijuana to visit family before study abroad came along. All that changed when she saw a flyer advertising a semester in Spain. "I decided to check it out and learn more," she said. "I was thinking there was no way I could afford this, but I ended up getting a Gilman Scholarship that paid for a good chunk of the program."

"You hear people all the time saying they want to travel someday," Sanchez said. "It's always 'someday.' And the fact is, for most people, 'someday' never comes. When you have an opportunity like this to study in another country, spend time there and learn about different cultures and different people, you have to take it."

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