Mindy Bridges, a senior studying anthropology, is being honored as CU's Study Abroad Student of the Year.
Mindy Bridges, a senior studying anthropology, is being honored as CU’s Study Abroad Student of the Year.
If you go
What: International Education Week reception
When: 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., Tuesday
Where:Center for Community, J.D. Abrams Student Cultural Center

University of Colorado senior Mindy Bridges has been at CU since the fall of 2007 but unlike most Buffs, Bridges has spent much of her college experience outside of Boulder.

After declaring her major in anthropology, Bridges began looking for opportunities to study abroad.

All it took was one Maymester class in South Africa to get her hooked on the international experience, Bridges said.

“As an anthropology major my professors are always talking about how important it is for us to get experience on the ground,” Bridges said. “So I decided that was something I needed to do to really understand
my major.”

Four international trips later, it’s no surprise that Bridges is being recognized as CU’s Study Abroad Student of the Year at the International Education Week reception Tuesday night.

The reception — recognizing CU students and faculty for their international work — is the main event for CU’s ninth annual International Education Week, said Larry Bell, director of the Office of International Education.

“The reception is really what started it all,” Bell said. “We claim a lot of related events now but the reception is the focus of it all.”

The awareness week, initiated by the Department of State and the Department of Education, is celebrated by K-12 schools and universities in 110 countries, Bell said.

“Sometimes international activities get categorized for an elite segment of the student body,” Bell said. “We want them to know study abroad is for everyone.”

Bell said the week also provides an opportunity for students to interact with CU’s international community, which can give local students an opportunity to branch out without having to leave the country.

With only six months to go until graduation, Bridges is staying put in Boulder for the first time since she began studying abroad in 2009.

After trips to Peru, Nicaragua and Canada, Bridges said it’s time to slow down and finish her degrees.

“I’m sure I’ll travel again after graduation but I need to buckle down,” Bridges said.

Bridges said she plans to eventually work in conflict resolution and her experiences abroad have provided her a way into the industry without interfering with college.

“I was able to get scholarships for most of the trips,” Bridges said. “Plus, I’ve been getting credits while I’m gone so it didn’t set me back too much.”