Young Tica from San José to have role in final debate

Jennifer Murillo Vargas

As millions of people fix their eyes on their television sets and perk their ears to analyze President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney debating views on foreign policy, San José native Jennifer Murillo Vargas will get to participate from her Florida university.

“Who else can say I was at the university during this historical event?” she boasted.

Ms. Murillo graduated from Lincoln School in May 2011. It was around this same time she was accepted to Lynn
University in Florida, the site of the final debate. She received a scholarship.

This achievement jump-started her multimedia journalism career, and Monday will take the San José native to the center of the final U. S. presidential debate between the two candidates. She will serve as a student volunteer for the university media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+ and also report for Beyond the Brief, a YouTube news show.

Being an international student is not an easy feat, Ms. Murillo acknowledged. Cultural differences and different belief systems make the immersion initially hard to get through.

“The hardest thing to adapt to was the way people treat each other,” she said about her experience in the United States. “In Costa Rica, I was used to pura vida. Everyone talks to each other, kiss kiss. So shaking hands was different.”

She credits her school in Heredia for helping her make the transition, and also the support of her parents Jamie Murillo and Connie Vargas for understanding her need to make a sacrifice to achieve her dreams. However, even with the distance she still maintains a connection with them, she said.

“My mom still wakes me up in the morning,” she said. “We talk at night to say our prayers together.”

Ms. Murillo encourages students to not be afraid to step out of their comfort zones and said someone who really wants to study abroad should look up information on different schools and scholarships, and keep up their grades. The experience will be worth it.

“Definitely the education is a whole lot different and you will get a different worldview,” she said.

“If you stay in Costa Rica, you are most likely to be classmates with others Costa Ricans. You don’t get the viewpoints of others outside the country,” she added.

After graduating, Ms. Murrilo has ambitions to pursue a master’s degree in broadcast journalism and experience the world through as a reporter. Her passion is to work for a television show, something she has already done in her home country through a seven-year job with Saturday children’s show RG Elementos on Teletica 7.

Although the Costa Rican citizen cannot vote, she says she is interested to hear how the candidates will deal with war and about money being put into the weapon trade.

She also noted that the United States has an influence in Latin America, and a better economy there would mean a better economy in her home country.

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