Irene Gutierrez has a zeal for international study. “I love learning about other cultures. But, then, who here at Goucher doesn’t?” she says.
Gutierrez has been studying abroad since she left her family’s home in Mexico at age 16 to attend a boarding school in New Hampshire. “And then everything changed,” she says.
During her sophomore year, she had the chance to study in Spain. Then she surprised her family by spending two-and-a-half months during her junior year living aboard a schooner that sailed from Massachusetts to Puerto Rico.
Now, at 21, Gutierrez is a sophomore at Goucher who is majoring in communications and media studies and in Spanish. She is planning to spend all of next year abroad: first for a semester in Salamanca, Spain, where she will study the Spanish language, and then a semester in Salvador, Brazil, where she will work on fulfilling the requirements for her communications and media studies major.
In Brazil, she will be doing all of her courses in Portuguese, a language she has just started learning. Though she admits this is going to be tough, her attitude is: “The more languages you can know, the better.”
She is also very excited about the Brazilian leg of her year abroad because she will be able to study samba, one of her biggest passions. Though Gutierrez didn’t choose to major in dance at Goucher, she says she has always danced, and with samba, she found a “dance style that was just for me … That’s the only type of dance I want to do.”
At Goucher, Gutierrez has been able to fit dance into both her academic and co-curricular schedules. She has taken a few classes within the Dance Department, and she has auditioned for recitals on campus. She also has begun teaching Zumba, an aerobic fitness program based on international dance rhythms, to students, faculty, and staff members.
It is these kinds of activities and opportunities — as well as spending time with her friends and eating sushi and poking around vintage stores in Towson — that Gutierrez says she will miss the most while she is away for her junior year. She also recognizes that another school may not mirror “how personal everything is here, how loving the community is.”
To exemplify how welcomed she has felt at Goucher, Gutierrez mentioned that soon after she arrived on campus, she was greeted by name by a member of the admissions staff. It turns out that it was a staff member who had read Gutierrez’s application and had remembered her. The admissions counselor spent time checking in with Gurierrez to make sure she was transitioning well to life at Goucher.
“I was in awe, and that just made me feel really special. I’m happy to be here. Of course we’re not numbers. We all know that. But that just goes to show you how personal everything is,” she says.
To give back in at least a small way to Goucher and to propagate the friendliness that she has found here, Gutierrez hosts prospective students as a Goucher Ambassador for the Office of Admissions.
“I wanted to be a role model and show people what the positive things about Goucher are,” she says. Potential students should know that “at Goucher, you can really find balance, and I think that’s essential. You can just broaden your horizons and do a little bit of everything. You can’t do that everywhere,” she says.