Krystal Quezada didn't expect to find herself in the Czech Republic during college. Or working in Washington D.C. Or developing videos for a non-profit. But she has experienced all of these as a student at UMass Lowell.
Her study abroad experience in the Czech Republic not only taught her about the seminar topic – immigration issues between the host country and the U.S. – but also gave her insight into herself. Quezada says the time outside the U.S. helped her identify her strengths, interests and areas to work on academically, professionally and personally. 
Quezada says the semester spent at the Washington Center was a life-changing experience. Beyond picking up work skills while producing public relations materials for a lobbying firm, Krystal made memories and friendships to last a lifetime.
"My initial focus was to grow as a writer and as a professional, but I gained so much more than that. The program allowed me to make international connections and see what it was like to work full-time as a valued employee," says Quezada. "Most importantly, the experience taught me about the corporate world, in every aspect. From business cards and attire to networking and landing job offers, the knowledge I have now is definitely an advantage."
Quezada brought her experience and skills back to Massachusetts and helped a local non-profit develop a marketing video. The organization, Budget Buddies, helps disadvantaged women gain control of their finances. Quezada conceptualized, wrote, researched and filmed the video that its founders now use in their introductory meetings. In addition to her role in the project, Quezada benefited from seeing how a non-profit can affect a community.
"The Budget Buddies volunteers were so inspirational and a pleasure to work with," says Quezada. "They gave me real insight into the non-profit world and great journalistic advice."
Quezada was looking for an affordable and beneficial college experience, she found that and much more at UMass Lowell.
"Although some of my most valued experiences were not necessarily on campus, I would not have been able to have these experiences if it was not were for the University."