Santiago Tijerina: Killam recipient to study international economics in Canada 

University of Maine undergraduate student Santiago Tijerina of Bangor, Maine is the recipient of a Killam Fellowship to study international economics in Canada this fall. 

The Killam Fellowships Program provides undergraduate students in Canada and the U.S. opportunities to spend a semester or full academic year in the other country as exchange students. Recipients like Tijerina receive $5,000 per semester, an allowance to offset health insurance costs and a grant of up to $800 for an educational field trip, according to the program website. The Killam Fellowship operates under Fulbright Canada and allows students academic and cultural connections with the Canadian Fulbright community. 

Tijerina, an international affairs student in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Honors College, says he plans to attend the University of Alberta in Edmonton from August to December and take four international economics courses, all taught in French. Taking courses in French will help Tijerina, a first-generation Colombian American, improve his proficiency in the language and his ability to apply it to professional and entrepreneurial conversations, he says. It also will help him become trilingual, making him fluent in French, Spanish and English. 

“Furthermore, I view this study abroad experience as an opportunity to forge new networking connections, long-lasting friendships, and memories,” Tijerina says. “I consider having a background in languages to be a critical asset for pursuing a career in international business.” 

Tijerina’s application was supported by the Office of Major Scholarships at UMaine. He says he also received guidance from Betsy Arntzen, outreach coordinator for the Canadian-American Center; Nives Dal Bo-Wheeler, director of the Office of Major Scholarships; John Mascetta, director of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Advising and Academic Services Center; French associate professors Frederic Rondeau and Kathryn Slott; Jane Smith, an associate professor emerita of French, Melissa Ladenheim, associate dean of the Honors College, and Robert Klose, a professor of biological sciences with the Honors College and University of Maine at Augusta-Bangor. 

“It is an honor to be recognized as a Killam Fellow,” Tijerina says. “Receiving this Fellowship is an academic achievement that I will always cherish.”

We spoke to him more about his goals and experiences at UMaine:

What inspired you to study abroad? 
I have always surrounded myself with the international community since a young age, and I grew up bicultural in the sense that at home I spoke Spanish with my Colombian parents and outside of home I spoke English. I believe that learning and experiencing different world cultures, languages, traditions, foods, perspectives and ideologies can not only bring me fulfillment, but can assist me in becoming a more knowledgeable and altruistic global citizen. I am a highly motivated student, capable of adapting to new cultural settings. I have traveled extensively throughout the continents of North America, South America and Europe. As an English instructor for children ages 4–12 at Kids&Us in Barcelona, Spain, I learned to organize excursions and lesson plans as part of a team of other English instructors. I have been fortunate enough to study abroad twice in my academic career. I attended an intensive French program at Barna House L’Escola d’Idioms in Barcelona during the summer of 2016 and another intensive French program at a McGill University MWS (Maxine W. Sommerville) camp during the summer 2017. Collectively, my experiences abroad have enhanced my knowledge of world cultures, inspired me to play the role of global citizen within my own community at the University of Maine and motivated me to study abroad.

Outside of academics, what do you look forward to from this experience?
I expect to be living in the International House at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada from August–December 2021. I am seeking an opportunity to have a living experience that would expose me to different world cultures and enhance my world view, and an experience that would help me grow as an individual and a global citizen. I view living in the International House as an opportunity to promote diversity and develop my skills in communication, leadership and teamwork. I intend to share food, cultural experiences and stories about my Colombian heritage as different ways to contribute to the International House community. Most importantly, I will value and respect the different cultures, perspectives and ideologies that I encounter. I also intend to implement the skills that I have developed in various experiences to promote global learning and international community building. 

Why did you choose to come to UMaine? 
The University of Maine offered me the opportunity to be a part of the Honors College, one of the most competitive colleges on campus. I knew pursuing a curriculum at the Honors College would enhance my writing skills, and allow me to achieve my potential in an academically rigorous environment. I believed that the University of Maine would be a safe decision to explore my various interests. I also believed that this was an opportunity to connect with individuals from other areas of the United States and the world, as well.

Describe any research or internships in which you have participated. 
One of my current internships is at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. I have committed my career to international business. It is with my passions for global studies and international community-building, with years of leadership experience in operations, people management, community-building and business strategy that I am excited to pursue the Latin American Program internship position at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. As an intern for the Latin American Program at The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, I hope to enhance my leadership, time management, observation, trilingual, communication and networking skills. I am thrilled to pursue this internship and bring my passion and unique blend of skills and experiences to such a dynamic, competitive, growing and educational organization. I also hope to obtain valuable experience in conference organization, library and internet research, publication assistance and general administrative assignments (data entry, proofreading, website management, event planning) that will serve me well as I commence my Honors College thesis in the topic of international economics and pursue a career in international business. I aim to make this internship a rewarding experience by being proactive. I am driven to produce world class research and public programs in an effort to make a real impact, develop personally and professionally and learn from people who are experts in their fields. Another one of my current internships is at the Camden Conference, a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization that fosters civil discourse on critical global challenges between policymakers, scholars and journalists. I work under the education committee chair Matt Storin and with the Student Education Fund to plan high school and college programs for future conferences.

What other on-campus activities occupy your time? 
I am very much involved in various student organizations on campus. I am the current international fund sector head of the University of Maine Student Portfolio Investment Fund (SPIFFY), and as the international fund sector head, I manage approximately $700,000 of international ETF positions. This competitive, engaging and valuable student organization has helped me obtain real-world experience in investing and financial management. I am a member of the University of Maine International Student Association (ISA). I have assisted in organizing various activities and events (Coffee Hour, Culturefest, International Dance Festival, Friday Night Soccer) to engage international and multicultural students in the community. Furthermore, I have educated campus entities on diversity. I am also a member of the Multicultural Affairs Committee, the African Student Association and the Caribbean & Latinx Student Alliance. I am a student ambassador for the University of Maine Office of Recruitment and Honors College. I recruit prospective students and assist in their transition to higher education, I promote valuable academic services and participate in student activities, programs and orientations. This has been an experience that has helped me acquire skills in communication, networking, project management, and marketing. I have also worked alongside associate dean Melissa Ladenheim as a student ambassador for the Honors College this past semester. It has been a rewarding experience to reach out to prospective and current students with the goal to create and sustain an Honors College community.

UMaine students interested in applying for the U.S. Fulbright student programs can contact the Office of Major Scholarships at The internal application deadline is Aug. 31 for an award starting in fall 2022.  

“Santi’s strengths are his fine intellect, his winning personality, his mature and genuine concern for others and the esteem he holds for anyone he believes he might learn from,” Klose says. 

Contact: Marcus Wolf, 207.581.3721;