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Dos Mundos Opens the World to Students

Senior Johanna Minyetty spent her Two Worlds travel year abroad in the Dominican Republic. Here, she stands in “Parque de la Catedral,” during a visit to the Zona Colonial in the capital city of Santo Domingo. (Photo courtesy of Minyetty)

By Kenna Caprio

Dos Mundos students have a habit of taking up residence at tables in the Student Union Building and Dickinson Hall on the Metropolitan Campus and lining them with goodies for sale. For their Valentine’s Day fundraiser, the table was awash in pink and red, with chocolates, teddy bears and other treats on display. The money raised defrays travel expenses for students preparing to study abroad for the year.

Dos Mundos — or “Two Worlds” — students travel abroad starting their sophomore year, spending either one or two years abroad at an international partner university. The rest of their education is completed on Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Metropolitan Campus.

“We are educating students for the world and are dedicated to the preparation of world citizens through global education,” says Lisetty “Liz” Nigrinis, director of the Two Worlds Program and assistant director for global partnerships. While abroad, “they do internships, learn a new language and culture and become acquainted with youth from different backgrounds.”

Together with late University president J. Michael Adams, Nigrinis pioneered the program, which graduated its first students in 2011. Additional start up assistance came from Kenneth Vehrkens, dean of Petrocelli College and Irwin “Rick” Isquith, professor of biological science and then-executive director for global partnerships.

“The Two Worlds Program began as part of an effort to connect or reconnect students of Latin American ancestry with their heritage countries,” says Jason Scorza, vice provost for international education.

The program has since expanded to include more study abroad options in Central America, Europe, the Caribbean and Asia.

“There’s such diversity in the choices — from Italy to Puerto Rico,” says freshman Harue Ramos, 18, of Paterson, N.J.


Two Worlds students Ana Laura Garaicoa, Stephanie Rodriguez and Anerys De Leon and director Liz Nigrinis (second from left) sell Valentine's goodies earlier this semester. Their next fundraiser is a dance at Union City High School from 6-9:30 p.m. on Friday, April 26. Call Nigrinis for details at 201-692-2392.

Currently, 52 students are enrolled in Two Worlds, with 30 slated to travel in the fall of 2013. Most students are recruited by Nigrinis, who visits area high schools and pitches the program.

Some students apply because of their parents. “Parents want them to go back to the community and share their heritage. But mostly, they apply because it’s about being worldly outside of the United States,” says Nigrinis.

As she studies in Spain, Ramos wants to become more “well-rounded in every aspect and just learn a different way of thinking and doing things.” She expects that after spending a year abroad, she’ll stand out from other students, making her into a “stronger job candidate.”

Jassmarry Marmol, an 18-year-old freshman from Paterson, N.J. who’s headed to the Dominican Republic, compares preparing to travel abroad for a year to “taking that step to move out of your parents’ house.” In other words, it’s a lot of responsibility.

“Studying abroad taught me the real meaning of independence,” says 21-year-old senior Johanna Minyetty of Union City, N.J. Minyetty spent her time abroad at Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra in the Dominican Republic.

“To those students in the Two Worlds program who are about to travel abroad: never be afraid to take risks,” says Minyetty. “Be open-minded and always be willing to learn something new.”

Thinking about her own future, Minyetty feels excited and encouraged that the program opens up more employment opportunities to her.

“Globally-minded employees are in high demand,” says Minyetty. “Having cross-cultural skills is a critical skill for today’s students.”

Two Worlds already opens up new experiences to the students, even before their travel year.

“The world is changing very quickly and every year the world is closer to becoming a global community. Having understanding of and openness to other cultures can help you,” says Two Worlds senior Dominic Weaver, 22, of Clifton, N.J.

Working toward a BAIS, a Bachelor of Arts in Individualized Studies, students concentrate on business; hotel, restaurant, and tourism management; business, communications and applied technology; information technology; electrical engineering; biology; psychology; criminal justice or forensics. Some opt to add a Latin American studies, Spanish culture, European studies, Korean studies, or Judaic studies component to their course of study as well.

“Studying at FDU has been the best decision I ever made. FDU has made me a more-mature, well-rounded individual. It has taught me real and unexpected lessons and I will always be thankful,” says Minyetty.

Recently, FDU and the Two Worlds program added two new overseas partners to its study abroad options — Galen University in Belize and the Universidad Católica de Santiago De Guayaquil in Ecuador. The university also offers this exchange in Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Germany, Israel, Italy, South Korea, Mexico, Spain and Turkey.

“It has become clear to us that other students are interested in having an immersive international learning experience, so we have expanded the Two Worlds program. We are having preliminary discussions with potential partners in Malaysia and India,” says Scorza.

Nigrinis also has designs to grow the program by admitting College at Florham students; she anticipates the first Two Worlds student will study at Florham in the fall of 2013.  “We’re working on the logistics,” she says.

For more information or to apply to Two Worlds, contact Nigrinis at 201-692-2392 or lisetty@fdu.edu.

Fairleigh Dickinson University Alumni Association

Office of Alumni Relations | 1000 River Road | Teaneck, New Jersey 07666
201-692-7013 | fdualumni@fdu.edu