Coming Full Circle

Brianne Kilpatrick ’08 never imagined studying abroad during her junior year would come full circle 15 years later.

Although not fluent in Spanish, Kilpatrick did not let that stop her from taking on an adventure of a lifetime – studying abroad for a year in Guanajuato, Mexico, during her junior year at Alverno.

“It was a really scary experience in the beginning,” she says. “But I took advantage of that year that I was there and… I experienced a lot.”

From hopping on buses to visit landmarks like El Pípila and Teatro Juàrez, making new friends along the way, Kilpatrick moved beyond her comfort zone. It paid off.

“It was life-changing, really. I went very timid, very shy, not really knowing anything about myself and I came back curious and confident,” she says. “I had a different outlook on life.”

Recently, Kilpatrick returned to Guanajuato to counter the isolation she experienced living in a New York City apartment during the pandemic. “It was just me and my thoughts and when things started opening up, I was like ‘I need to go somewhere, I need to get out, I need to do something.’”

As she began to plan her extended visit, she realized that she didn’t want to treat this experience as just a vacation. Considering her work as a professional photographer, she decided to explore the possibility of producing her own coffee table book of photography. She crunched the numbers, created a Kickstarter, and has already exceeded her pledge goal.

Guanajuato: A Photo Book features 200 pages showcasing the beautiful lifestyle, architecture, landscapes, and history of Guanajuato, a state in central Mexico. Among the sights, she snapped the monument to Mexican independence hero El Pípila, Teatro Juàrez, Mina de San Juan de Rayas, historic churches, and so much more.

“It was so much fun being there with a purpose,” she says. “It made the experience much more richer.”

If you’re thinking about studying abroad, Kilpatrick advises: “Just go! Do it! As soon as you can. It is such an amazing experience that you’ll take for life.”

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