CU offers ideal environment for Fulbright student

Carla Bustamante has worked in management and as an instructor of entrepreneurship and accounting at her alma mater in Chile, Adolfo Ibáñez University. But to become part of the research community that represents her longtime aspirations in academia, she has come to the University of Colorado Boulder.

Bustamante is working toward a doctoral degree at the University of Colorado Boulder in strategic, organizational and entrepreneurial studies through the Leeds School of Business. She received a Fulbright scholarship for the program from the U.S. government’s flagship exchange program promoting international graduate study, research and teaching opportunities.

Bustamante says her time in the business world, developing sales at an international courier service and a building supply company, helped prompt her interest in studying the psychological and behavioral aspects of entrepreneurship. Her current focus of research is how stress impacts entrepreneurs’ well-being and venture performance. She says CU-Boulder offers a perfect environment for pursuing research.

“In Chile, most of the universities are practitioner oriented and not really research oriented,” said Bustamante. “Here, it’s completely different. I came here because I wanted to know about research, so this is the perfect place.”

Since settling at CU-Boulder, Bustamante has been impressed by the support services and conveniences offered to students, including get-togethers hosted by the Office of International Education. The well-rounded learning environment enhances opportunities for academic achievement, she says.

“I think that CU-Boulder is a pretty special place where most people can find an ideal environment for study,” said Bustamante. “I feel that my life is in an equilibrium more than ever. I have a nice and big library, and next to it is the gym, and I live on campus, which is unheard of in Chile.”

Bustamante lives in family housing with her eight-year-old son, and calls it the most diverse place in Boulder. Her neighbors hail from all over the United States as well as Mexico, Peru, Europe and Asia. She even found a group of single mothers with whom she coordinates carpooling their children to and from elementary school.

Bustamante anticipated that her biggest challenge would be bringing her son with her, but it turned out to be keeping up with quickly paced classroom discussions in English. Another challenge has been watching major events in Chile from afar, such as the earthquake that struck the country last Feb. 27.

“I was so concerned, waiting for news of my family members, many of whom live in Concepción, that I forgot my own birthday on March 1,” she said.

Her uncle lost his house in the disaster, but her family was otherwise unharmed.

After completing her doctoral program, Bustamante plans to return to Chile, where she already has a teaching position waiting for her at her alma mater. There she will continue to research entrepreneurship, collecting data from developing countries, and writing and publishing papers. Most of all, Bustamante says her goals include maintaining her academic contacts made while at CU-Boulder, and going abroad again after a few years.

A total of 12 Fulbright students are at CU-Boulder this year. In addition, five CU-Boulder students received Fulbright scholarships to study at other campuses across the globe during the 2010-11 school year.

The combined number of international students and scholars at CU-Boulder, through an array of programs, is 2,050, putting the campus over the halfway point to reaching its five-year goal of bringing the international population to 2,500.

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