Bryn Swiston ’25

Gustavus Adolphus College: Where Success Stories Begin

Support Specialist, Paz y Esperanza

Major: Political Science

Minor: Communication, Spanish, Lat Am, Latinx, Carib Studies

Tell us more about your accomplishment.

I will work with a non-governmental human rights organization called Paz y Esperanza (Peace and Hope) based in Medellín, Colombia, in January 2024. Their primary focus is to work with people facing violence and poverty to promote peace and well-being. During my time in Medellín, I will focus on supporting those affected by the Colombian civil conflict and displacement. I will spend one month assisting in their community programs and learning from the staff and participants.

How has the Faculty helped you become career-ready?

I first learned about Paz y Esperanza during a J-Term program in Colombia with Professor Gerstbauer, where we studied peacebuilding and ethical engagement abroad. Without this experience, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to explore this field, which I hope to pursue as a career after graduation. Although Professor Gerstbauer has been particularly helpful, many of my professors have also been supportive of my career goals, answering my questions and encouraging me to take advantage of opportunities.

What steps did you take to achieve your accomplishment?

I had an incredible experience with Paz y Esperanza in the past, and I felt very inspired by it. I wanted to return to work with them again, so I contacted some staff members in Colombia and asked if I could come back in January. They said yes! Then, I applied for the Engaged Learning Fund to help cover the costs associated with this opportunity. Throughout the entire process, I had conversations with former Chaplain Maggie, the staff at Paz y Esperanza, and my professors of Political Science, Spanish, and LALACS about how to make the most of this experience.

How did the Center for Career Development assist you?

I am incredibly grateful for the assistance provided by the Center for Career Development through the Engaged Learning Fund. Julie Rudolf informed me about this resource and encouraged me to apply for it when we discussed the possibility of interning overseas. This fund provides financial support for either underpaid or unpaid internships, enabling individuals who might not otherwise be able to afford them to participate. The Engaged Learning Fund confirmed my decision to work with this organization in Medellín, providing me with a unique experience that I would not be able to obtain anywhere else.

What advice would you give to other students or prospective students?

My advice to other Gusties and prospective students is to take advantage of the opportunities that Gustavus offers. This institution provides excellent connections, support, and preparedness that can be leveraged to explore areas that inspire you. You never know where you may find a place for your interests and skills, and fortunately, there are numerous people and offices on campus who are eager to help you grow.

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By Hector Aguilar
Hector Aguilar Assistant Director for Outcomes and Strategic Initiatives