Students who participate in a Verto semester become part of the Verto family for life. We love to hear how our alumni are doing and how they have been impacted by their Verto experience, so we sat down with two of our awesome students to catch up.

EmmaEmma Laredo

By the end of her senior year, Emma knew she wanted to take a year off before college. Her dream was to travel but she had some major concerns about the high cost of study abroad programs. Luckily, she was able to make travel a reality thanks to the affordability of a Verto Semester. Last Fall, she embarked on the Costa Rica semester with plans to attend the University of New Hampshire the following year. Emma was excited to share how she’s grown since beginning her year off.

So Emma, what are you up to these days?

Much to my surprise, after my Verto semester I ended up in Colorado, working as a lift operator at Beaver Creek Resort. I will be attending UNH in the fall and I’m very much so looking forward to it. 

Sounds like you have had a pretty exciting year so far! What would you say was your favorite part of your Verto semester?

My favorite part of my Verto semester was the people I spent every day with. My leaders and teachers were amazing and I felt as though they were my best friends. Everyone in my cohort was compassionate and caring, which made the whole experience amazing.

What did you learn from being surrounded by all these new people?

I saw that everyone’s lifestyle is different from one another and that we all come from different backgrounds that influence our points of view. I learned this from the people I was traveling and living with as well as the many new faces I met in Costa Rica. Whether it was talking to my friend Monti about growing up on the south side of Chicago or listening to the stories of Victoria, a transgender woman, I was always understanding the world from new perspectives.

It’s amazing that you got to learn from so many diverse people. What were some of the skills you gained from encountering all these new faces and situations?

I learned how to be quite flexible with the conditions I was immersed in and also how to manage my time. There were days where we didn’t know when we’d have WiFi next, or even electricity, so I pushed myself to get my work done as efficiently as possible. Strong time management is a vital skill that I will now bring with me to college and beyond.

Those skills must be helpful as you reintegrate into your life in the U.S. Speaking of, how have you been adapting to life after Verto? What were some of the biggest takeaways that influence you today?

Verto helped me realize my passion for self care and self love. Verto opened my eyes to my love for children and my desire to help make a positive impact on society. Verto opened my eyes to so many opportunities I didn’t know existed.

We can’t wait to see how you make your mark on our world, Emma. 

Thanks for your time! We are so glad to have you as part of the Verto family.

Ula CamastroUla Camastro

As a lover of experiential education, Ula was thrilled to begin her college career on Verto’s Costa Rica semester. These days, Ula is reporting to us from Santa Rosa Junior college. We were thrilled to learn about the impact of Ula’s Verto semester on her studies today.

Now that you’re at university, can you tell us what has been different between your Verto and college classes?

I love how Verto classes are all about hands-on, integrated education that incorporates classroom discussions with community immersion experiences. Learning through Verto, I gained a bigger perspective on what education is; I saw that education goes beyond just the textbook. Now that I’m taking classes in a traditional classroom setting, I have a big appreciation for the creativity of Verto classes.

We’re so glad to hear that you loved the Verto style of learning! Outside the classroom, what was something you loved about your Verto semester?

Being submerged into a different culture was eye-opening for me. I not only learned about the culture I was in, but also was able to understand more about my own culture in the United States, for example, how multicultural it is. I learned many new perspectives about the world and the experience fueled my urge to travel more and see more cultures.

Did these experiences help you adapt to college life?

Compared to students who went straight into a typical college setting, I was able to gain a greater sense of independence and responsibility.

That’s an awesome advantage to have as you begin your college career. Would you say your Verto semester influenced your thought process about what you want to study?

Verto has been influential when it comes to choosing what kind of education I want to receive. I’ve learned that I much prefer to learn by doing and getting out in the world rather than at a desk. Instead of choosing classes just to “get credit,” I am now motivated to choose classes that are engaging, interesting and meaningful.

It sounds like your college experience is off to a great start. Thanks Ula! Best of luck as you continue your studies at Santa Rosa Junior College!