Elizabeth Kelliher

InterFuture Class of 2012

Research Project: An examination of the cultural factors that influence voter turnout of college students in presidential elections in San Jose, Costa Rica and Boston, the United States.

During my first InterFuture conference I was captivated by the community’s incredible travel stories. But even more, I was inspired by a recent alum who said that participating in InterFuture would be the single best way to get academically published by the age of twenty-five. At the time, I distinctly remember thinking “Maybe for you, but there’s no way that I’ll be able to accomplish that.”

Fast forward to less than two years later and not only had my work been published, but I had been regionally and nationally recognized for my research. I had a job offer directly related to my project. Altogether, this was accomplished leading up to my graduation from undergrad and before my 22nd birthday.

So how did I go from “not for me” to “this is my life”? Countless hours of background research, three months’ worth of coconuts opened by machete, community support from some of the smartest and savviest people I have ever had the pleasure of associating with, and interviews ranging from the top political scientist in Costa Rica to a tattoo parlor technician who told me about his view of political participation while piercing my ears. My experience was hardly linear. Instead, I was forced to find my best practices by researching and designing plans of action and then having the courage to put those plans of action to rest when they did not work. InterFuture gave me the opportunity to realize my own adaptability—it allowed me to fall flat on my face and learn not only how to stand back up on my own but learn how to ask for help getting back up, sometimes in a foreign language. For the first time in my life, I was unable to simply get by on my smarts and a quick review of notes for an easy grade. I was the one charting my own standard of success.

InterFuture was an opportunity to push towards the best version of myself. It meant individualized challenges on academic, cultural, linguistic, and personal levels, which are unparalleled to any classroom, or study abroad option that I have come across. My training through InterFuture empowered me with the skills to overcome these challenges, and made me realize that I was both brave and bold enough to take them on. The impact has been long lasting as I have taken these skills to continue charting my personal and professional goals in the post-grad world.

I both challenge and welcome those who are ready to start this global and personal adventure and look forward to seeing how and where their InterFuture experience leads them.