Gabrielle Hayashi Santos standing outside between two hedges looking at the camera

Taking her education global with international internships

October 11, 2022

Gabrielle Hayashi Santos shares her story

Gabrielle Hayashi Santos has been interested in the topic of internationalizing education ever since she was in high school.

It’s an interest that led the Brazilian graduate to apply for – and receive – a 12-week internship at Vancouver Island University in 2019, through the Mitacs Globalink Research Internship program.

Since then, her academic journey has led to internships at UNESCO and OAS amongst others and completing a Master’s in Development and Governance from University Duisburg Essen, with support from the DAAD Helmut Schmidt Program, which provides scholarships for future leaders from developing countries who strive to promote democracy and social justice. She is currently exploring options for her PhD.

We caught up with Gabrielle to learn more about her time at VIU, how it helped her do what she’s doing now and what’s next for her.

Why did you choose VIU?

I chose VIU because of the opportunity to work with Recreation and Tourism Professor Dr. Garrett Stone through the Mitacs Globalink Research Internship, on the project “Welcome Home: Developing, Implementing, and Evaluating a Study Abroad Re-entry Program.” During my 12-week internship, I was able to collaborate with the amazing faculty at VIU, learn more about research in my chosen topic of interest and take multiple courses offered by Mitacs.

Tell us more about the research project you worked on at VIU and how it has impacted your career trajectory.

I believe that my experience at VIU with Dr. Garret Stone taught me a lot about how to do quality research work in this area of study, and helped me to increase my network with other researchers and professionals who work in this area. During this experience, I supported Dr. Stone in topic areas such as internationalization, study abroad and reentry, and international program development, marketing, and evaluation. The summer of 2019 was the first time I had a more in-depth experience in researching internationalization, and it really shone a light on the topic for me. With this experience, I was able to look into international education through a different lens, which is a learning that is now reflected in my work. I would say that this experience was crucial for my decision to pursue a master’s degree and to apply to PhD programs in the area of education.

What have you been up to since VIU?

Currently, I am looking into PhD programs in Education, with a focus on International Education, in Canada and in the US. I plan to apply this year and start next year in the fall. Since VIU, I have had the opportunity to intern at the United Nations and in two different departments of the Organization of American States: The Young Americas Business Trust, where I worked with the Eco-Challenge program and TIC Americas competition, and the Department of Human Development Education and Employment. At UNESCO, I worked with innovation in higher education. I was also a research assistant at the University of Pennsylvania’s think tank.

Why drew you to pursue this type of career?

International education has been a part of my life since high school, and because of that I was always applying for scholarships and other international opportunities that fit my career goals and general interests. When I entered my undergraduate program, this shifted from a passion to an area of work and research, since I started to focus even more on my international education consultancy company and conduct research projects that focus on the different areas of international education, such as cultural diplomacy, brain drain, brain circulation, development through study abroad programs and evaluation of scholarship programs. Being from a country in the Global South, this area not only interested me, but it also became part of my life, since many scholarship programs are connected to this area. Since I was always applying to different things, I started to wonder about the why and how of these opportunities, especially how these scholarships affected, positively or negatively, the development of the national countries of the applicants.

What advice would you offer to a student looking to follow in similar footsteps as yours?

I know that my answer can be a bit cliché, but my advice would be: network. Do not be afraid to reach out to people. I believe a big part of my professional and personal development came from reaching out to people through Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. By talking to people, I understood about different areas of work, received amazing application tips and was even offered different opportunities. In combination with this tip, I would also add that, when you can, offer to help. Try to help others the way that you would like to be helped and explore where your expertise could add value to the lives of others.

Anything else you would like to add?

I am available in case anyone wants to have a conversation about any areas of interest that may be in my area of expertise, as I know that many people apply to Mitacs and want to have a conversation with alum to understand more of the application process.

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