12th Grader Sienna DeFazio and Her Future Year Studying Abroad in Costa Rica and Spain


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There are many ways to start one’s educational journey after graduation. Some attend a junior college or four-year university, while others take a gap year before going to university. But not everyone has the opportunity to study abroad right after high school. 

Sienna DeFazio, a Ukiah High senior, plans to study abroad in Costa Rica and Spain during her freshman year of college. This is DeFazio’s first chance to travel outside the United States. “The prospect of immersing myself in other cultures and languages has always been very appealing to me”

Verto Education makes her dream of experiencing other cultures a reality. DeFazio first heard of the organization from an ad on Instagram. From there, she looked into the organization and attended a presentation at Ukiah High. 

Costa Rica and Spain are perfect locations to practice speaking Spanish daily. DeFazio is a model student who completed all four years of Spanish at Ukiah High. And now has the opportunity to converse with native Spanish speakers. 

DeFazio is very interested in environmental concerns and awareness. She chose to study in Costa Rica for her first semester to gain first-hand experience of the local biodiversity. Verto Education provides hands-on learning experiences, such as labs in the forests, which is very important to her. 

During Defazio’s second semester in Spain, she can choose a homestay rather than a dorm. This will give her the opportunity to experience an urban setting in a different country. 

“Studying abroad will enhance my educational goals because it will help me hone in on my passions and what I want to do with the rest of my life. Getting out there and getting some real-world experience is vital for me” 

She plans to attend a four-year university in the U.S. to study Environmental Studies or Nutritional Sciences upon her return. 

DeFazio advises other Ukiah High students to “not be afraid to do something different and thoroughly look into all your options”. “Take advantage of this time to travel, learn about yourself, and see the world when you’re young and have fewer commitments than you will in the future.”

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