Senior will intern in Moscow
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Senior will intern in Moscow

49 degrees Fahrenheit.

In the Russian capital of Moscow, this is the average year-round high.

Is it beach weather? Not exactly.

However, for senior Shirah Foy, going to the Russian capital is a dream come true. For 10 weeks, she will intern at her dream job, the U.S. Department of State in Moscow.

Foy has aspired to have a job with the department since she was 14.

For nearly the same length of time, she has also been interested in Russia and the former Soviet countries surrounding it.

“I’m most excited about working at the embassy and seeing if my dream job is actually my dream job,” Foy said. “This is really what I want to do,” Foy said.

To prepare, she’s specifically taken classes at Belmont to learn Russian, and she applied for other positions in Russia, in addition to the state department internship, to maximize her chances of spending extended time there.

It was the enthusiasm, determination and initiative she put into years of preparation that earned her the internship, said Dr. Maggie Monteverde, executive director of the Cooperative Center for Study Abroad.

“These are very competitive appointments,” Monteverde said. “She got the internship because she got out and impressed them with her enthusiasm for Russian culture.”

She’ll spend a total of eight months in Moscow and St. Petersburg in Russia, and in Odessa, Ukraine. She will take intensive and immersive Russian classes in addition to the 10-week internship work with the state department. While she knows she has the internship, she still is working to finalize a few details, including her clearance level at the American embassy.

“I have to get a secret or top-secret appointment for the internship. I haven’t gotten that yet,” she said.  “All I know is I’m going and that I have housing during my stay.”

Foy will work on either the public policy or the political-economic desk in Moscow. That is what thrills her the most about the trip.

“I’m not nervous about anything,” she said. “The language barrier doesn’t scare me anymore, and I’ve eaten dog and slept on bamboo mats in China.” She has also spent extended time in Belgium, Bosnia, China, Australia and Italy and is willing to adapt to any culture.

Foy was quick to encourage anyone interested in studying abroad to look into it and put in their best effort.

“If you have any inclination or might like studying abroad, make sure to do all the research you can for it. As long as you know what’s out there, you’re bound to find a scholarship or a program that fits what you’re looking for,” she said.

Monteverde agrees and said she believes Foy is a prime example of how study abroad can be done successfully.

“I think students often look at study abroad that often have barriers to them,” she said. “What impressed me with Shirah is that she was able to overcome the obstacles here.”

Monteverde also believes this appointment, only the second embassy internship given to Belmont students in the last 15 years, could set a precedent for Belmont students in the future.