Taking the Leap: Student Micah Hinnergardt

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Micah Hinnergardt is an International Affairs senior with minors in Economics and Legal Studies. Micah grew up in a small town in central Pennsylvania called State College, best known as the home of Penn State University. Micah is one of the recipients of the America Award, granted to her in October 2019 by the Italy-USA Foundation in recognition of her academic achievements and service to the university community. 

From Left: Dean Mary Merva, Djuna Carlton, Adriana DeNoble, and Micah Hinnergardt

From Left: Dean Mary Merva, Djuna Carlton, Adriana DeNoble, and Micah Hinnergardt

What brought you to Rome and JCU?
When I was younger, I traveled to Europe with my family and quickly fell in love with the Mediterranean. Five years later, I had the incredible opportunity to spend my junior year of high school living as an exchange student in the south of France, not far from Montpellier. Before I returned to the States, I was already looking for ways to come back to Europe after my final year of high school, and by chance, I came across JCU. Once I got my acceptance letter, I booked a plane ticket and have fallen more in love with Rome every day since.

What made you decide to study International Affairs and Economics?
I chose to study International Affairs because I wanted a degree that would give me flexibility in my career and allow me to travel. I would also like to work with people and hopefully play my part in improving my community. International Affairs seemed like the perfect stepping stone towards my goals. Additionally, I chose to minor in Economics because I believe that it is essential to understand both on a private level and because of the influence that money has over so much of the world today. This semester I also picked up the new Legal Studies minor. After taking Public International Law with Professor Harris and International Criminal Law with Professor Sunga, I knew that law was a passion of mine and something that I wanted to pursue, so I was thrilled when they added the new minor.

You are involved with JCU’s Community Service program. In what ways do extracurricular activities help you, and why are they important?
I first became involved in JCU’s Community Service program because I realized that I only had three semesters left at JCU, and in that time, I wanted to become more involved with the University and with Rome. I began teaching English at the Latter-day Saints Friendship Centre mostly by chance and I thought that I would be a perfect way to meet new people and become more involved with my community. However, volunteering quickly became so much more. Not only have I made many amazing friends through this experience, but it has also been an excellent way for me to get out of my university-student routine and get my mind off everything I have to do, at least for a few hours each week. In this way, extracurricular activities have almost been a sort of therapy for me, and they have significantly broadened my university experience in the best way.

What’s your ultimate career goal?
After I graduate, I hope to join the Peace Corps and serve for a couple of years as an English teacher in West Africa. Then, I hope to get a Master of Laws degree in International Human Rights Law. After that, I’m not sure what my next step will look like, but hopefully, I’ll find some more inspiration and figure it out along the way.

What’s your advice for other students who are considering JCU?
For anyone considering attending JCU, my advice is to go for it! Even though it may seem intimidating to move to another country and be away from your friends and family, know that everyone here is in the same boat when they first come to JCU. Living in Rome and studying with peers and professors from all over the world is well worth taking the leap.

Anything else you would like to add?
Overall, the relationships that I have built and the friendships that I have made in the past four years will stay with me no matter where I go. The professors that have challenged me and guided me have led me to opportunities that will continue to shape my future. It is for these reasons that I am so grateful for everything that I have gained as a member of the JCU community and as an American expat living in Rome.