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Student Spotlight: Kaela Green on winning the NSHSS scholarship and making Madrid happen

A junior at Penn State, Kaela Green is looking forward to expanding her horizons and pursuing her passion for Spanish culture through an internship abroad, all thanks to winning the National Society of High School Scholars Scholarship. A Marketing major, pursuing a minor in international business, Kaela will be boosting her professional skills working at a Marketing firm in Madrid. Since high school, Kaela has had international experience on her mind – now her dream is coming true as she is the worthy NSHSS international internship scholarship winner. Congratulations, Kaela!


“I think more people should take the time to understand and respect cultures different from their own.” -Kaela Green, NSHSS International Internship Scholarship Winner, Madrid program


Kaela Green really likes to keep busy. Besides studying, Kaela’s recent achievements include participating on the Smeal College of Business Student Council events committee, interning with “Women in Business” on campus, blogging for the website “TrendState” as a member of the Penn State Marketing Association, fundraising for several non-profit organizations and also working in Penn State’s Office of Global Programs. Kaela also really enjoys studying her major, Marketing, and appreciates all aspects of the industry. “To me, it’s the most powerful and creative function of business,” she says. Kaela also is fascinated by international studies and culture, which is partially why she’s looking forward to her internship abroad. “Being multiracial, I am so open and interested in people from all over,” says Kaela. “I think more people should take the time to understand and respect cultures different from their own.”


international internship scholarship


TIG: How does it feel to be the NSHSS scholarship winner? Why do you think you were chosen? What additional award comes with this distinction?

Kaela: “I don’t think words can express my gratitude. I have been a member of NSHSS since around junior or senior year of high school. I think that passion may have been a part of why I was chosen. Here I am just going through college, participating in all these clubs and taking on all these roles – I am doing it all so passionately. I really truly believe that everything happens for a reason, and there is a deeper meaning behind every experience, every task that anyone does. So everything that I take on, I really put my all into it, because you never know what you’re going to get out of it.

“Although the scholarship was rewarding in itself, I think most importantly it just lifted my spirits during a time where I was starting to doubt myself. There is a lot going on in my life: finding internships; my family at home; classes at school and even personal struggles within myself. It is so easy to get overwhelmed. Before the NSHSS scholarship, I had never applied to any scholarship ever really. I always doubted that I would ever actually be the winner. There would always be someone with more talent, more involvement, better writing abilities, and just generally more to offer than me. So actually going for it, and being selected is an unbelievable feeling. It was a confidence booster, and really helped me to not be so quick to look at what I don’t have, but rather to embrace what I do have. All I can do is make myself better, and that’s what I will continue to do.”


TIG: Why did you decide to intern abroad in Madrid? What interests you about Spain?

Kaela: “When I was younger, I grew up primarily in the Bronx, which if you’ve ever been there you’ll know, has quite a large hispanic population. I don’t know if that had anything to do with it, but I have always had this love for Spanish culture – the food, the music, the dancing. I think it’s the feeling that hispanic culture has always given me that has made me want to visit so badly. I learned Spanish all through high school and even took some advanced independent Spanish classes and graduated on the Spanish Honor Society. When I got to college, I shot straight to the highest offered level at that branch campus, and found that I still probably could not have a fluent conversation with a person who grew up speaking Spanish. I have always listened to Spanish music. I knew that if I truly wanted to dive into the culture, gain fluency in the language, and understand Spain as a country, I couldn’t do that from the United States, so that’s why I chose Spain.


international internship scholarship


TIG: What are your expectations of the city?

Kaela:“I have heard a lot about Spain in general just being a very laid back culture, very easy going. So I think it will be a refreshing change from the fast-paced, super competitive American lifestyle I am so used to. I also hear that the locals are very friendly so I am hoping to be able to stop being so shy and get out there and meet people.”


TIG: What are your hopes for the internship and overall experience?

Kaela: “I definitely want the internship to be challenging and meaningful. It will be meaningful to me regardless, but I hope that my contribution will be meaningful to the company and that I can make an impression on them during my short time there. I know that working long hard hours isn’t generally practiced there, so I do hope that I adjust and fit in well professionally.”

“Overall, I know that I will learn so much from this experience that will come in handy in all aspects of my life. I really have the intention of making the most of this experience and taking all that I can with me. I want to build strong relationships with the staff at the company, my coworkers and the other interns. I want to be able to leave speaking Spanish like I’ve lived there all my life. And I definitely hope to leave with some irreplaceable memories of adventure and cultural exploration. I am so excited.


TIG: How long have you known that you wanted to intern abroad? When did you first make the decision that you wanted international experience? What spurred that decision?

Kaela:I remember the exact moment my mind opened up to the idea of incorporating international expertise into my future career. It was at a college fair held in the gym of my high school in 2011. I was talking to a recruiter and flipping through a pamphlet when I learned about studying abroad, international internships, and other related opportunities. He began telling me about studying International Business, since I always knew that I did want a corporate career path. My mind initially went off dreaming of a life full of continuous business trips and important meetings with top notch foreign executives. That the day I swore I would travel the world, and make it a part of my life.”


international internship scholarship


TIG: Are a lot of your friends also thinking about going abroad during university? Why or why not?

Kaela: “I’ve met tons of people and had a lot of friends who have always said they want to do it or that they’re going to do it, but no one ever actually went through with it. I imagine that it’s something everyone thinks about at least once in their college career. We all always said we would go together. I was even making plans with my best friend at a different university for us to travel at the same time to the same place so that we could be together. But I think people just see it as unrealistic when they aren’t thorough with their research. People also assume it’s expensive and they can’t even afford to go abroad at this point in life.
I have seen, however, that me actually going abroad (and getting such an amazing scholarship to make it happen!) has opened my friends’ eyes. I always tell them that they can ask me any questions and I will definitely help them in every way that I can – seeing as I do work in the Global Programs office! From talking with my friends about it, I know that I have definitely inspired them to look into it more and seriously consider how they can fit traveling abroad into their time at the university.”


TIG: What do you think you’ll gain from the international experience? How do you think that experience will advance your studies and eventual career?

Kaela: “Insight is the most valuable possession I will take back with me after my trip. I can read a thousand articles about the world but I will never truly know what anything is like until I am physically there. I love that I will be able to explore and share my experience with everyone back in the United States. I hope to document my trip and definitely keep a journal of my time there.”

“This experience will be irreplaceable, and I will gain skills that no classroom or company can ever teach me. I think that this will give me an edge when interviewing for a full time job when I graduate college. It will allow me to stay humble and stay aware of the other cultures existing in this world. It will give me memories to pass down. It will inspire my siblings and show them that they can go anywhere. In a world where technology and the internet have made political borders no barrier on communication and business, it is more important than ever for business professionals to get out there and explore the world.”



This interview has been lightly edited and condensed.


Inspired by Kaela’s opinions on international experience? Apply now and boost your career!


Photo 1. by Kaela Green

Photo 2. by Kaela Green

Photo 3. by Kaela Green

Photo 4. by Kaela Green

Photos and blog by Elizabeth Trovall

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