By: Ryan Sosic '19
BEREA, Ohio- College is often viewed as the time where young adults are encouraged to try new things and indulge in adventures before heading into the real world.
Baldwin Wallace University women's swimming and diving All-Ohio Athletic Conference sophomore stroker Marissa Kural (LaGrange, Ill./Lyons Township) was able to experience a life-long goal by taking her studies over the Atlantic Ocean during the 2018 fall semester for a study abroad experience that may have opened up new opportunities when she walks across the stage as a graduate in a few years.
After encouragement from her academic advisor at BW, the public & non profit management & Spanish double major participated in an internship program with the United Nations. The UN is an international organization focused on humanitarian work, international development and peace. The internship was run through Kent State University and was 16 weeks long, lasting from mid-August until the last week of December. The only money Kural spent out of pocket was for her housing, everything else transferred over smoothly thanks to the partnership with Kent State and obtaining a scholarship for her plane ticket.
Kural traveled to Geneva, Switzerland to do work with the Federation of International Civil Service Associations' (FICSA), the International Labor Organization Administrative Tribunal (ILOAT) and the United Nations Dispute Tribunal (UNDT). Her major responsibilities included: writing articles for the UN Special, researching ILOAT cases, creating the application for a FICSA Information Officer and drafting a variety of documents.
Her favorite part of her internship was gaining all the hands-on experience as the only intern at the time, which helped her forge a very good relationship with her supervisor.
"I was excited for the opportunity to work with FICSA and help ensure that employees maintain all their rights," said Kural. "Since the United Nations is not bound by any international labor laws, it is especially important for the UN to have a strong body that helps ensure staff is being treated fairly."
Working closely with all aspects of a completely new legal system and gaining close experience within certain legal cases has helped Kural zero in on a possible career-path after she receives her degree from BW.
"I am considering going to law school, so seeing the legal issues FICSA dealt with was extremely interesting because it's a completely different system of law," said Kural. "Being able to work within the ILOAT system to study different cases confirmed that it was something I enjoyed. I decided to add a legal studies minor when I got back to BW."
RUNS IN THE FAMILY
Kural's father left Turkey to come to the United States to attend college so it was always in the back of her mind that studying abroad might be something she would like to try out if it was the right situation.
"I feel like study abroad was something I have always known I wanted to do. The BW study abroad programs are amazing. There are so many opportunities," said Kural.
Coming back to America after being away for the whole semester may seem like a difficult adjustment for someone to make both in the classroom and in the pool. Kural's schedule during her internship of 20-hour work weeks allowed her to travel around Europe, which is a change-up from having multiple classes everyday on top of committing countless hours of practice throughout the week.
"It's not terribly difficult being back at BW. It's definitely a transition though. Getting back into the routine to being more of a student than an intern is a change," said Kural. "I was also traveling to many different places when I was abroad so it is an adjustment just staying in Cleveland."
While she was abroad, the Yellow Jackets took part in 10 meets against various opponents all over the country and has now rejoined her team in the middle of their 2018-2019 campaign. Although Kural may not have prepared the same way she would have in a normal off-season, she still has the same ultimate goal for herself and her team.
"This season might be not my top season because I wasn't here for the first half but I definitely want perform to the best of my ability and do whatever I can to help my team at OACs. My ultimate goal for my time on the team is to make the NCAA national tournament," said the sophomore.
Another reason for her steady transition back is the communication she has had with head coach Laura Wolff-Demaline, who has had a long understanding of Kural's interest in this sort of opportunity from the get-go.
"In terms of study abroad for student-athletes, I would recommend that someone talk to coach ahead of time. When I came on my recruiting trip I already knew I wanted to study abroad, so I discussed that with Laura. We worked together to decide a smart time for me to study abroad and she recommended going during the fall semester," said Kural. "Division III sports should give you the flexibility to study abroad if you want to."
As she has time now to sit back and reflect, Kural expresses the importance of taking an opportunity like study abroad at a time like this in a college student's life.
"I would definitely recommend the internship with FICSA, but there are a ton of other opportunities to work with non-profits in Geneva through the Kent State program," the sophomore said. "I think it is really unique to be able to have an international internship and if people are interested they should take advantage of the opportunity."
BACK IN THE WATER
During her freshman season in 2017-2018, Kural earned All-OAC honors after a runner-up finish in the 100-yard butterfly in a career-best time of 58.39 seconds and was a member of the 800-yard free relay team that broke a school-record after posting a time of 7:55.16.
Just over a month into her sophomore season, the All-OAC performer has captured a victory in the the 200-yard freestyle during a dual-meet against Pitt-Bradford (Pa.) and Franciscan with a career-best and season-best time of 2:08.40. In the same meet, she was able to post a runner-up finish in the 100-yard backstroke with a season-best time of 1:07.08. In relay action, she been a part of a first-place finish in the 200-yard medley.
The Yellow Jackets finished the regular season at an overall mark of 7-7. The team will be back in action as they travel to Ocasek Natatorium at the University of Akron for the OAC Championships on Feb. 14- Feb. 16.