November 4, 2019
Chesapeake native Claudia Bale came to VCU knowing she wanted to combine a pre-med track with a humanities degree. Now a senior majoring in International Studies, her ultimate goal is to work as a physician in underserved communities locally and abroad.
Bale is the second person in her family to choose an International Studies degree; her older sister majored in it at Virginia Tech and was a strong influence. Bale is also minoring in Spanish and Chemistry. The School of World Studies offers Bale a rare opportunity to study the humanities since her graduate and post-graduate education will center almost the hard sciences.
Bale has developed communication, cultural and leadership skills in her time with us. Through our coursework, she has “become a more intentional, flexible writer.” She’s also gained valuable experiences outside the classroom. In the summer of 2017, Bale spent a month abroad in Mexico with a VCU study abroad program, while this past summer spent 2 months in Guatemala interning with Hope of Life non-profit and carrying out an independent research project with the help of the VCU Baldacci Experiential Learning Fund Award. These experiences have allowed her to cultivate her Spanish language skills and affirm her love of language learning as well as foster deeper cultural sensitivity.
Last year, along with her roommate Neha Pondicherry, Bale co-founded the World Studies Society, our student group for which she still serves as treasurer. They were inspired to start the club out of a desire to “get the most of the major” and make the School feel “more connected.”
A sense of community has been an overarching theme of Bale’s School of World Studies experience. Our small class sizes create a more intimate atmosphere in which students are pushed to “interact and collaborate” with each other and faculty.
Bale hopes to funnel the communication and interpersonal skills she gained through the School of World Studies into her future as a doctor in part because she has always been drawn to family medicine which is “more social in nature.” The importance of “working well with people” and “patient interaction” in particular will rely on the soft skills she gained as an International Studies major.