Growing up in Medford, Massachusetts, business administration major Jennifer Dossantos looked up to her mother, an immigrant from Brazil who was the second of six children. She left school at age 13 to work and help care for her younger siblings.
“My mom is the greatest person,” she says. “She’s really independent and strong, and I wanted to be that strong businesswoman in an industry that’s mostly dominated by men. That’s what spurred me on to get a business degree.”
Dossantos and her identical twin sister, Jessica, came to UMass Lowell in part because it rewarded their hard work and strengths.
Jessica got into the highly competitive Solomont School of Nursing and a support program for first-generation college students, while Jennifer was admitted to the Honors College and awarded a $4,000 Immersive Scholarship that she could use for research with faculty, a supervised community experience or study abroad.
“We wanted to go to school together, so we picked the school that was best for both of our majors,” Jennifer says.
She used her Immersive Scholarship to study abroad in San Sebastian, Spain, through the Honors College’s three-week Spanish and Basque immersion program, offered each summer. It helped her to improve her already excellent Spanish language skills while learning about Basque culture and history. (She also speaks fluent Portuguese, thanks to her parents.)
She bravely tried a wide variety of local dishes in San Sebastian, a city renowned for its food scene.
“I tried pig’s ear, snails and blood sausage. I ate it, and I’m proud that I ate it, but I ate it just once – I didn’t enjoy it,” she says, laughing.
Jennifer is pursuing dual concentrations in international business and management with the goal of working abroad for a multinational company. As a junior, she will take the co-op class to prepare for a paid placement with a company where she can learn new skills and explore her interests.
“I wanted to have a major where I could have versatility, so business seemed like a good option,” she says. “I can do a number of things for different companies, thinking long term.”
She has greatly enjoyed her honors business classes, especially Honors Introduction to Business and a DifferenceMaker class on entrepreneurship with Assoc. Teaching Prof. Deb Finch, a “great professor.”
For fun, Dossantos hangs out with her sister and their two best friends, who are all rooming together in an off-campus apartment as juniors. She also plays on the women’s club rugby team.
She credits her mom for her fierce competitive spirit and can-do attitude.
“She’s always taught me to be a hard worker,” she says. “That’s why I’m so on top of things, because that’s how she is – she’s very on top of things, and always does everything to the best of her ability.”