Angie Baldelomar grew up in Bolivia with a far-out dream to study English in the United States. Without the means to send her on their own, her parents didn't think it was possible. She graduated in May 2018 with degrees in film and journalism and is pursing a career in reporting and storytelling post-graduation. She hopes to merge the skills from both her degrees and create documentaries.
In fifth grade, I realized that I really liked learning English. At most schools in Bolivia you learn English at a very basic level, but I was good at it and I wanted to know more. My English professor gave me more advanced books, and I always listened to songs in English and eventually began to understand them.
I knew that I wanted to use English as more than another line on my resume. I continued to study and practice and once I realized I was really good at it, I decided I wanted to go somewhere where I could learn how to write. As a kid, not knowing how hard it is to actually come to the U.S., I was excited and said, “That would be so cool if I could get to study there.”
My dad said, “You won’t be able to do it.” Obviously we didn't have the means to send me so I would have to get a scholarship, and those are usually given to people who know someone or through marriage. I was bummed.
Even though my parents didn't quite have faith in me coming here, they were always pushing me to be better and they never put restraints on what I could do. They supported me when I decided that I wanted to at least try to get a scholarship and study in the U.S. They never limited how big we could dream.
I found a few scholarship programs and eventually I applied to eight schools across the U.S., and KU was the best offer.
Even once it was real and I’d been accepted, my mom admitted, “I actually didn't think you’d get in.” There were so many unknowns, and we didn't know if there were would be enough scholarship money. They didn't want to get their hopes up.
For the scholarship I had to declare a major, and right away I knew it was writing and storytelling. I went with journalism because I thought it would offer a wider variety of jobs. I knew once I was here I would be able to change my mind, but when got started, I thought I could see myself doing this.
Film was never in the plan. This was a major I never thought I would go into. I had to have a minor or a second major so I took a film class just to explore it, and then I realized that was really what I want to do.
I feel drawn to making movies. I like writing and directing a lot and I think documentaries are the perfect match between film and journalism. I could put those skills together, so down the road I hope to explore that more.
I’ve found not only friends at KU but great professors both in the film and J-School that I’ve been able to develop one-on-one relationships with. They know who you are and where you are headed, and having that mentorship has probably been the best part of KU as a whole.
I had an irrational fear that I would get here and people would talk to me and I wouldn't understand anything they were saying. I remember thinking, “What’s going to happen then?” I scored high enough on the English requirement test that I didn't have to take any more English classes here, but a few months before, it started becoming more real that I was coming here by myself and I’d never even been to the U.S. before.
Before I got here I didn't even realize basketball was so huge, but it was always a plus. Freshman year, my friends and I took a road trip to southern California and one of us was wearing a KU shirt and a random person came up and said, “Rock Chalk!” It was really cool to know that the Jayhawk was so recognizable anywhere and that even so far away we are a part of something.
Abi Gleckler is from Minnesota and graduated in May 2018 with a degree in journalism and a minor in business. She was involved on campus as a field reporter for KUJH as well as copy editor for the University Daily Kansan. Post-graduation, she is traveling to Ireland before returning to pursue a sales or marketing career in the health and wellness industry.