HBCUs Abroad Presents: Raigan

Meet Raigan Wheeler
Baltimore, Maryland
Morgan State University, May 2017
Public Relations

Raigan is currently a junior at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland. She serves as a student leader on campus through her Resident Assistant position, Public Relations Director of the Junior Class' SGA, Miss Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society 2014-2015, and most recently as a Student Ambassador in India. Raigan aspires to be a Director of Public Relations/Communications for a government agency involved in international relations. She hopes her desires to travel the world will go hand in hand with her career goals.

     What was your motivation for studying abroad?

     I have practiced Hinduism since I was 15 years old and always dreamed of going to India.  I have always been spellbind to India and the people. I had a conversation with my host mom (in India) about the cycle of rebirth and she said that I must have been a Hindu in my past life (which doesn't seem to hard to believe but mystifying at the same time). One of my friends from my job as an RA knew about my fascination with India. She participated in the same program and she really motivated me to study abroad by telling me of all the opportunities it could bring career wise. When I found out I could study aboard in India to learn a foreign language while exploring the country of my religion, I was sold! 

     What is your favorite memory from study abroad? 

    The trip to the Taj Mahal! I was totally and utterly blown away! The site is breathtaking and story behind it will leave you mesmerized! I am forever inspired by the story behind this world class beauty. I am truly grateful and blessed to have been in a place that was built to symbolize a man's proud passion and love for his queen.  Out off the hundreds of concubines and other wives, he chose to build this for one woman. The Taj Mahal is the manifestation of true love. We were so thrilled to go there that my friends and I left the hotel at 5:30am to beat the lines. We stayed for four hours just reflecting and staring at the Taj. I could go on and on about that day.  You cannot come to India w/o out visiting the Taj Mahal! I still have two and half weeks left in India, so I'm sure more amazing memories will come about.

What was the toughest thing about studying abroad? 

  I'm from Baltimore, so two months without a crab cake is one of the hardest things ever!!!!!!!!! On a more serious note, I am an only child from a single parent home. So I'm really close with my mom. She's my best friend! I was heartbroken when I got on the 15 hour flight to India and it hit me that I won't be with her for two months. I've used all my minutes and data calling her. But hearing her voice makes all the stress of learning a new language/culture in a new city much easier. 

      How has your experience abroad helped your personal development?

         Living in a new country and having to fully immerse yourself will change your life drastically! I have never met a Hindu or visited a temple in the U.S., so being here has benefitted me spiritually in more ways than I can count. India has definitely made an huge impact on my spirit. From visiting temples, to holy cities like Pushkar, and just feeling a new ambiance, I feel like a new person. This country has awakened every one of my senses and I'm seeing the beauty and devastation in everything. I have been exposed to so much here that I can feel in every aspect that I'm a different person. I am all for change and growing!  This experience is the precursor for what's ahead for me. "Exposure equals mentality."

           How has study abroad impacted your global awareness? 

          As I said before, "exposure equals mentality". By that I mean that what you see, hear, taste, smell, and feel will definitely open your mind and soul. The people that I've seen on the streets literally make do with what they have. Here in India, any day could really be your last (even for me, I almost get hit by a rickshaw or scooter everyday). I can guess that's it's like that in many parts of the world but I've never seen people up close in situations like this. I can no longer complain or feel ungrateful for anything. I wish people back home could see some of the things I have seen here. Their outlook on life would be very different. This is a humbling, eye-opening, attitude readjusting experience indeed. In addition, being a black woman in India made me really popular with the Indian people. I sometimes get offended by the stares and people trying to take pictures of me. I realized that here, unlike back home, that I am marveled at because of my skin! It does something to you when you're not even appreciate or praised like this by your own people! I had to come half way around the world to feel like an African goddess.

      How has study abroad impacted your education and/or career? 

          The course I'm taking to learn Hindi is a crash course and it's extremely rigorous. My friends and I jokingly compare it to the hardest level of a engineering or math class.  This language is not easy but through excessive practice and a full immersion into the culture, we haven't scored anything less than A's in the course. Career wise, I plan to work for an US agency involved in international relations or international community development. I would like to work for the government in the U.S. and other countries helping to manage crisis or media situations or political campaigns.  I know that having a high competency in critical languages will propel us all into arenas that we never thought we could reach as people of color. I'm so ready to see what having global experience and knowledge in a critical language(s) will do for us (the others in my group). A master's in international or government relations is definitely in the future!

           What advice would you give to someone thinking of studying abroad? 

          Studying abroad was a dream that I never that was possible because of numerous circumstances. I hate to sound cliche, but dreams come true!  You must be a risk taker and adventurous! There are sooooo many journeys life can take you on. So why not take trip mixed with some education, culture, food, and new people and make the best out of it! The worst things you can have is doubt and fear. 


        How can people contact you for more information?

        Email: rawhe1@morgan.edu 
        Instagram: president_raigan
        Other: Linkedin: Raigan Wheeler 

        Thank you Raigan!
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        - The Natural Travelista