Overseas Study Opens up a World of Possibility for Student-Athlete

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When Krystal Galdamez ’24 arrived at Dominican three years ago, she never would have imagined the experiences ahead of her. Now, the senior business student is ready to take on the world – literally – after summer programs in both Korea and Spain introduced her not only to new cultures but also to new possibilities.

“Dominican, and particularly the Barowsky School of Business, has provided connections, opportunities, and support,” Krystal says. “My professors are amazing, my advisor is always there to work with me, and this past summer was the highlight of my life thanks to Dominican.”

In high school, Krystal thought her dream school would be a large, Division I school. However, a late-spring phone call from Dominican’s women’s soccer coach, asking if she would be interested in visiting campus and possibly playing for the NCAA Division II Penguins, changed all of that.

Growing up in San Jose and, while attending Santa Teresa High School, played both club and high school soccer. Her brother was already studying business and playing soccer at Dominican. He was enjoying his own college experience and suggested Krystal at least check out the campus and the soccer team.

“In high school people romanticize going to a huge college with sororities, fraternities and football games, and I hit that phase for a second,” she says. “Before I came to Dominican I didn’t realize how much I would love to have small classes so that I would get to know professors. Everyone is here to support you and to see you succeed.”

Krystal is majoring in business with a concentration in marketing and minors in global innovation and entrepreneurship and coding and software design. She credits supportive and accessible professors, along with faculty and staff mentors, for nurturing an interest in business, particularly entrepreneurship.

“As I have navigated school, I have had so many different opportunities,” she says. “I felt lost as a freshman, but now I have two minors and a major in subjects I really enjoy.”

There’s another reason Krystal loves Dominican, and it’s one that she admits has surprised her.

“Dominican has truly opened my eyes to the world. I have been offered amazing opportunities in the Barowsky School of Business that have made me realize that there is so much to explore in the world – and that I want to continue exploring.”

Last summer, Krystal was among a group of Dominican undergraduates who traveled to Korea as part of the “Global Innovations & Entrepreneurship” course led by Dr. Wayne de Fremery, professor of information science and entrepreneurship, and Dr. Sarah Lee, assistant professor of organizational behavior and management.

Before joining Dominican, Dr. de Fremery was an associate professor of Korean Studies in the School of Media, Arts, and Science at Sogang University in South Korea. Under his direction, the 11-day immersion experience included classroom instruction as well as meetings with local entrepreneurs and company executives. Students heard first-hand how companies operated and innovated. In the evenings they dined and networked with CEOs and other executives.

“The experience was just amazing,” Krystal recalls. “We attended classes, visited other campuses, met with students, visited temples and monuments. Each evening we would have dinner together and with special guests. I learned so many new things and met so many interesting people.”

Three days after returning from Korea, Krystal received an email from her advisor Erin Aradi, BSB’s assistant dean for academic programs, inviting Krystal to apply to join a summer program at La Salle Campus, a private university in Barcelona. The “Business Model Innovation & Entrepreneurship” course would focus on effective business models and marketing strategies for entrepreneurs.

Several weeks later, Krystal was hiking with friends when she received a call saying she had a spot on the trip.

“It was one of the happiest calls I have received, I was jumping around and immediately called my mom to say, ‘I’m going to Spain.’”

Only a few days later, Krystal was on the 14-hour flight to Barcelona – the longest trip she had ever made solo.

“It all happened so fast. One minute I found out I was going to Spain and the next thing I knew I was on my flight, reading about Barcelona and trying to figure out the metro system.”

Those jitters eased once she conquered the metro and arrived at the stop near La Salle, which is located in a peaceful suburban neighborhood just outside Barcelona. It was a great area to explore.

“It was really a huge culture shock for me to actually see kids and families walking with each other but with no phones or tablets in sight. I loved how much the social life was about being outside – that was my favorite thing, seeing people navigating their world without caring about what’s happening on social media.”

The classes at La Salle were both challenging and interesting, attended by students from Dominican, as well as students from a wide variety of U.S. and European universities. The students ate lunch together and, in the afternoons and evenings, explored the area together.

“I was anxious the first few days, but then I found out that all the other students had felt the same way. We were in such a great environment where we felt so cared for and they encouraged us to explore. I remember thinking, wow there’s so much more to the world with just books and soccer,” Krystal says.

“If you were to tell 10-year-old me that I would one day be going to Spain – by myself – I would have said no way. The younger me would never imagine having this opportunity – never imagine going to Spain, so the inner child in me was very excited.”

The experience has made a huge impact on Krystal. Now in her final year at Dominican, she’s already considering enrolling in the University’s MBA program, which offers students the option to study abroad.

“I never thought I’d say this, but my experiences this summer made me want to study abroad. The experience opened my eyes and made me realize that I have so many options and that I can make my own path – and that's what I plan to do.”

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