Marria Peduto is a wanderlust-stricken adventurer. The summer after she graduated high school, she participated in the U.S. State Department's National Security Language Initiative for Youth, living with a host family in China and diving into a language she knew nothing about. The Indianapolis native was determined to continue the adventure during college and to get out of Indiana and see the world.
She was surprised to find that the easiest way to do this was by enrolling at Indiana University.
Now a sophomore majoring in international studies and East Asian languages and cultures, Peduto has already had her first of many planned study-abroad experiences. As a Hutton Honors College student, she traveled to Paris in May as part of French literature course.
"On its surface, the course and the trip don't have anything to do with my degree focuses, but what we learned ultimately lined up with larger themes in international studies," Peduto said. "Reading literature from another country helps you understand how people from different cultures think."
Peduto plans to take part in a study abroad experience every year during her time at IU. Next year, she hopes to take a course that travels to Indonesia, and as a member of IU's Chinese Flagship Program, she will spend two years living in China before she graduates.
Opportunities like these are what ultimately swayed Peduto to follow in the footsteps of several of her family members and attend IU. Both of her parents and one of her grandparents are IU alumni, and her great-grandfather is Ivan Fuqua, a Hoosier track star who won a gold medal as a member of the 4x400-meter relay team during the 1932 Olympics.
Because of her family connections, Peduto felt like she knew everything about IU and thought attending would be too familiar to be an adventure. Her perceptions changed with she visited an information session at the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies and heard from a student who'd spent a semester in Azerbaijan studying Turkish.
"All of a sudden I was discovering something brand new about a place I already knew well and loved," Peduto said.
This summer, Peduto is sharpening her skills by attending the Hamilton Lugar School's Flagship Chinese Institute, an intensive workshop offered by IU's Language Workshop that allows students to complete a year of Chinese language in eight weeks. The program consists of daily classroom learning, one-on-one tutoring, cultural activities and practical application. In addition to a written and oral exam, each Friday students are given a real-world task -- like finding housing in a new city -- to complete in Chinese.
Peduto is pairing her majors with minors in business and Southeast Asian studies as well as a global service and Peace Corps prep certificate. While she's still deciding whether she'll work in the private sector, join the Foreign Service or work abroad for a nonprofit, she thinks this academic path will prepare her for what's next.
"I love that I'm getting the breadth of international studies, the depth of Chinese and the bonus of knowledge about Southeast Asia, which is increasingly becoming an important part of the world for business and diplomacy," she said.
Participating in Model United Nations and the College of Arts and Sciences Luminaries Program and sitting on the GS7 student advisory board for Hamilton Lugar School Dean Lee Feinstein help Peduto hone professional skills outside the classroom that will prepare her for success after graduation.
Living in the Hamilton Lugar School's Living Learning Center during her freshman year gave her networking opportunities that can open doors later in her career. The group has shared meals with leaders like Feinstein and Lee Hamilton, former member of Congress and one half of the school's namesake. Peduto has formed a connection with a consultant who has worked on every continent on earth except for Australia. The two plan to rendezvous this summer in New York City.
"Not only has the Hamilton Lugar School and the LLC offered me incredible experiences, but those experiences have led to lasting relationships," Peduto said. "So many little things that the school does show they are really invested in you and your future."
On July 9, join us as we follow Marria Peduto through her day as an IU student as part of our One Day/One Hoosier series. Look for his story through @IUBloomington on Twitter, @iubloomington on Instagram and iu_bloomington on Snapchat as it happens live starting around 8 a.m. EDT.