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Living her ‘American dream’

From a small town in Spain, to a small town in Kentucky, Paula Fernandez is learning, succeeding at Campbellsville University
Paula Fernandez came to Campbellsville in the fall of 2022, and is currently a sophomore, studying psychology with a minor in criminal justice.

Paula Fernandez came from the other side of the globe to the small town of Campbellsville, wanting a change in her life and to experience what it is to be independent in the United States.

Fernandez comes from a very small town in Spain. She was born and raised in Pamplona, located in Navarra, in the north of Spain. Fernandez said the town was very small and she knew everyone.

“I wanted to go somewhere else, far away,” she said. “I grew up there, went to school and basically everyone was familiar with everyone.”

Fernandez got help from her cousin, who works at a scholarship company that sends students to the United States to start their new life.

“This was a big change for me,” she said. “Coming from a small town in Spain to a small town in Kentucky might seem that it is the same, but it’s not.”

Fernandez came to Campbellsville in the fall of 2022 and is currently a sophomore, studying psychology with a minor in criminal justice. Her plan is to graduate early.

“I want to take summer classes and be done with school sooner than expected,” she said. “I want to graduate, go do a master’s degree in Europe and achieve my dream of being a forensic psychologist.”

Fernandez has this big dream of being a forensic psychologist, who treats victims, criminals and connects psychology and the legal system. She wants to pursue a master’s degree in forensic psychology to expand her knowledge and experience in the field.

Being a forensic psychologist is a unique degree. However, Fernandez feels very comfortable and eager to learn more.

“I chose this career path because I have a great passion for psychology in general,” she said. “I knew psychology was my thing. However, I have been a fan of shows that portray criminality and psychology, such as ‘Criminal Minds,’ and it made me even more excited to learn and major in that.”

Mitzie Forrest, assistant professor of criminal justice here at Campbellsville, describes Fernandez as having various qualities that stand out from the rest.

“First, I admire all of our international students so much for coming to the states and learning how to speak and understand the English language,” she said. “I am not sure I would be flexible enough and resilient enough to do the same thing. Paula has the qualities of flexibility and resilience. She does seem to have a keen interest in forensic psychology and does seem to be pursuing her education so that she can position herself to achieve her future goals. In fact, she will be doing an internship in forensic psychology.”

Fernandez is a quality student, according to Forrest.

“Paula comes to class and while she is quiet, she listens to lectures and performs as I would expect a university student to perform,” she said. “She seldom misses class and when choosing classes, she makes choices that not only fulfill her interests in psychology, but also takes very complimentary classes to psychology, such as my victimology and criminology classes.”

Many international students take a big step to study in the U.S., and Forrest said she’s proud of their initiative.

“I truly admire our international students for going abroad and embracing different cultures while fighting through homesickness, language barriers and many other things.” she said.

Fernandez said coming to the U.S. was eye-opening, and has changed her completely.

“Coming here made me step into reality,” she said. “Meeting people was the best thing. This experience opened my eyes to what life really is. I also visited places I have never been before and learned new things. I became more independent and mature.”

As an international coming to the United States, you can face many challenges, but also learn and experience a change for the good. Fernandez said her biggest piece of advice for future international students is to always be patient and enjoy the process.

“At first, everything will seem unreal and fantastic,” she said. “We all come here with the view of the ‘American dream.’ With time, you learn but then succeed, learning a new language, and having a ‘reality check.’ Overall, you will learn so much and reflect on how you were from the first day until the present.”

Fernandez believes this change has been worth it, with self-reflection, comparing how much she has developed. It has been all for the good and she does not regret this experience.

Melissa Barrantes said she’s very thankful Fernandez chose CU. She said Fernandez is one of her closest friends on campus.

“I have known Paula for quite a while now, and we have been through amazing times together,” Barrantes said. “We spend a lot of time together watching the soccer team practice, we laugh all the time. It is never a dull moment with Paula.”

Barrantes and Fernandez are both international students at CU, and have enjoyed their experiences, so far.

“I came here because of soccer, and I met Paula along the way,” Barrantes said. “Though we do not do the same sport, we still have an unmatched energy, and we always have an amazing time together. She supports our team nonstop and is always cheering for us. She is one of us.”

Paula Fernandez is pictured with her boyfriend, Marc Boye. “Paula has the kindest and biggest heart I know,” Boye said.

Marc Boye, Fernandez’s boyfriend, said she’s the kindest and most loving person he knows.

“She always supports me in my decisions and what I do,” he said. “She likes to be active and always strives for the best, which is something I highly value as her boyfriend.”

Boye is proud of how caring Fernandez is and how kind and good her heart is.

“She is the best partner I could have,” he said. “She cares for me. If she wants something, she will work hard until she achieves it.”

Being in college, Boye and Fernandez are looking forward to graduating and starting their life together.

“I’m looking for us to be able to start a life outside of Campbellsville,” he said. “Move somewhere which works for both of us, and be able to support each other in whatever we want to do in the future.”

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About the Contributor
Daniela Benavides

Daniela Benavides is a senior at Campbellsville University. She was born and raised in Quito, Ecuador, but most recently has lived in Lima, Peru. Benavides started her collegiate career at Waldorf University, a small four-year college in Iowa, after being awarded a soccer scholarship. Looking for better opportunities academically and athletically, Benavides transferred to Campbellsville University in August of 2023.

Benavides is a mass communication major, and is planning on being a sports photographer/videographer or social media manager in the future. She’s currently interning with the Sports Media Information staff as a photographer and videographer.

Benavides is looking forward to graduating and seeing what the future holds for her, as she is currently looking for jobs and optional practical training.

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