Mary Doro has enjoyed her well-rounded experience at Illinois State, both on campus and beyond.

Doro, a senior Presidential Scholar and special education major, has studied abroad three times, and Honors Travel to Peru over winter break was her first study abroad experience.  “It was amazing to see a group of strangers come together so quickly to share such a cool learning experience,” Doro said.  “One of my favorite parts of the trip was hiking from Machu Picchu to the Sun Gate.”  The food was delicious, Doro pointed out. “We ate so much quinoa!”

“I learned an incredible amount during this two week trip.  It truly opened my eyes to how big the world is, and how amazing people are,” Doro said.  “You get a fresh perspective when you not only learn, but actually experience the culture and customs of another country.”

Her second study abroad experience, a semester in Spain, helped Doro finish minors in International Studies and Spanish.  She stayed with a host family in Granada and still keeps in touch with her 72-year-old “Madre.” Doro then saw a different part of the world in the summer of 2017 when she traveled to Russia with her peers as part of a “Cross-Cultural Considerations in Special Education” course. Learning in another country has helped this education major empathize with her students and create a more culturally responsive classroom.

As a Presidential Scholar, Doro was able to form a community within the Honors Program and focus on her education in new ways.  “The Presidential Scholarship really challenged me to ask myself why I was learning,” Doro said, “I really enjoy it, and this pushed me to try things that I had previously not planned on doing.”  Doro’s favorite part about being a Presidential Scholar was the Honors Seminars.  “They were incredibly engaging, and you examine ideas and concepts that had never previously come up in my major or general education classes,” Doro said.

Doro plans to teach in Illinois before applying to teach in the Peace Corps.  As she nears graduation, Doro reflected back on her freshman year.  “I was told, ‘Don’t be proud of your college- make your college proud of you’ and I would pass on that advice to any student looking at Illinois State and considering the Honors Program.”  Doro went on to say, “When choosing a school, pick the one where you can see yourself being involved- the one that has that particular extracurricular, or that specific course, or that fun event where you can see yourself.”

Doro has no regrets about making Illinois State and the Honors Program her home away from home for the past four years.  “I may be a little biased, but Illinois State is all I wanted and more.  Through the Honors Program, I was able to study abroad in one of the prettiest countries in the world, serve as an Honors Mentor to some of the brightest people I have had the pleasure to work with, and make so many friends and memories.”