Critical Language Scholarship Program | Vanessa Huerta
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Vanessa Huerta

CLS was a turn­ing point in my life. It wasn’t just a trip to anoth­er coun­try to learn a for­eign lan­guage. On the con­trary, it was a trip of cul­tur­al under­stand­ing, per­son­al growth, rela­tion­ship build­ing, and a mile­stone to my per­son­al identity.”

Vanes­sa Huer­ta was a par­tic­i­pant in CLS Russ­ian in 2017 in Vlad­mir, Rus­sia. As a first-gen­er­a­tion busi­ness admin­is­tra­tion stu­dent at Loy­ola Uni­ver­si­ty in Chica­go, she knew that the CLS Pro­gram would be the best study abroad option that would fit her bud­get, and allow her to con­tin­ue her Russ­ian lan­guage stud­ies in an immer­sive environment. 

Being Mex­i­can Amer­i­can on the CLS Pro­gram gave Vanes­sa an invalu­able per­spec­tive that set her apart from oth­ers in her cohort. She was born in the Unit­ed States, and sur­round­ed by Amer­i­can cul­ture, but raised in a tra­di­tion­al Mex­i­can household. 

I did not ful­fill the typ­i­cal Amer­i­can image that Rus­sians expect­ed, but it gave me a chance to share part of my Mex­i­can cul­ture and lan­guage, and explain the diverse cul­ture of the Unit­ed States which dis­tin­guish­es us from oth­er coun­tries. I was able to share tra­di­tion­al Mex­i­can recipes with my host mom, dance to Reg­gae­ton with my host sis­ter, and share sto­ries of fam­i­ly tra­di­tions with my lan­guage partner.” 

After CLS in 2017, Vanes­sa had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to return to Rus­sia, this time study­ing busi­ness in addi­tion to Russ­ian lan­guage at Moscow State Insti­tute for Inter­na­tion­al Rela­tions. The CLS Pro­gram set her up well for fac­ing chal­lenges and being inde­pen­dent abroad.

It was my sec­ond time in Rus­sia that allowed me to appre­ci­ate my Mex­i­can Amer­i­can iden­ti­ty. I left Rus­sia with con­fi­dence in who I am, what per­spec­tive I have to offer, and how look­ing dif­fer­ent is not a bad thing.”

Vanes­sa is cur­rent­ly the Wel­come Coor­di­na­tor at Oak Street Health, a pri­ma­ry care clin­ic designed to serve patients on Medicare in under­served com­mu­ni­ties. Some of the clinic’s clients are Russ­ian speak­ing, which has giv­en her the oppor­tu­ni­ty to build deep­er rela­tion­ships and learn new Russ­ian words daily. 

No mat­ter where my career takes me, I know that I will con­tin­ue to use my lan­guage skills gained on the CLS Pro­gram. Speak­ing Russ­ian has giv­en me a tick­et into a dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ty oth­er than Amer­i­can or Mexican.”

Alumni Profiles

Vanessa Huerta
Vanessa Huerta
Russian 2017
Vladimir, Russia

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Posted Date

January 21, 2020