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15 Famous Hispanics Who Studied Abroad

Hispanic pride while studying abroad

Before we say good bye to 2013's Hispanic Heritage Month, the team at Go Overseas would like to sing the praises of a few men and women of Hispanic descent that took the leap to study abroad!

National Hispanic Heritage month was initially established by US President Lyndon Johnson in the 1970s. The celebration as we know it today, annually from September 15-October 15, was instituted in 1988 by US President Ronald Reagan. During this time, we strive to recognize the contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans to the United States. We also seek to praise and honor the group's rich heritage and culture.

Below is just a small sampling of the inspiring Hispanic individuals who spent time studying in a foreign country in their early life. Who knows, maybe someday you'll be on this list!

catherine sandoval

Catherine Sandoval - Sandoval is the first Hispanic commissioner of the California Public Utilities Commission, and a current professor at Santa Clara University School of Law. In 1984, she was the first Latina Rhodes scholar and studied at Oxford.

george santayana

George Santayana - George Santayana was a philosopher and writer originally born in Spain. He graduated from Harvard University after being raised in the US, and immediately moved to Berlin to study. He also later studied at Cambridge.

jose ferrer

Jose Ferrer - Jose is most commonly known as the first Puerto Rican, as well as the first white Hispanic actor, to win an Academy Award (in 1950, for Cyrano de Bergerac). A lesser known fact: he attended the boarding school Institut Le Rosey in Switzerland.

gael bernal garcia

Gael Garcia Bernal - Gael was the first Mexican to ever attend the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, where he studied acting. He speaks fluent Spanish, English, Portuguese and French, and helped create the Amnesty International Short Documentary Series Los Invisibles.

jose celso barbosa

Jose Celso Barbosa - Barbosa was also the first Puerto Rican to earn a medical degree in the United States, earned in 1880 from the University of Michigan. He even graduated valedictorian! After, he returned to the island where he set up shop in his hometown.

anthony atala

Anthony Atala - Anthony Atala was born in Peru and has completed ground breaking research in the medical field, largely in tissue engineering and cellular therapeutics. He studied and grew up in Miami, Florida before becoming a fellow at Harvard Medical School.

alejandro foxley

Alejandro Foxley - Foxley is a Chilean economist and politician. He was the Foreign Minister of Chile from 2006 to 2009. After earning his undergraduate degree in Valparaiso, he earned his PhD in Economics from the University of Wisconsin - Madison.

Jose Ortega y Gasset

Jose Ortega y Gasset - Ortega was a Spanish liberal philosopher and essayist. After receiving his PhD in Madrid, he went to Germany to do postgraduate work. He was a huge proponent of the idea of perspectivism.

diego rivera

Diego Rivera - Rivera studied abroad thrice! He studied in Madrid, Spain, followed by Paris, France and finally in Italy. He was a prominent Mexican painter in the early 20th century. Rivera painted murals in Mexico City, Chapingo, Cuernavaca, San Francisco, Detroit, and NYC.

henry cusick

Henry Ian Cusick-Chavez - Henry is a Scottish-Peruvian stage, television, and film actor. His largest role to date came in 2005 when he was cast as Desmond Hume in the ABC series Lost. He's studied in Spain, Scotland, and Trinidad and Tobago.

miguel betancourt

Miguel Betancourt - In 1988, the British Council awarded Betancourt a scholarship to study a postgraduate art degree at the Slade School of Fine Art at the University College London. He is an Ecuadorian contemporary artist whose paintings are a fusion of local cultural motives and colors.

eric garcetti

Eric Garcetti - The current mayor of Los Angeles, California formerly studied as a Rhodes Scholar at The Queen's College, Oxford and also studied in London at the School of Economics. He is a Mexican American of Spanish, Italian, and Indigenous descent.

hila levy

Hila Levy - Levy is an officer in the United States Air Force who made history in 2007 when she became the first Puerto Rican to be awarded a Rhodes scholarship. She earned a Master’s of Science in Medical Anthropology in the UK.

chesa boudin

Chesa Boudin - Boudin is an American lawyer, writer, and lecturer specializing in the U.S. criminal justice system and Latin American policy. He spent his junior year abroad at the University of Chile in Santiago, Chile funded by a rotary scholarship.

carlos acosta

Carlos Acosta - Carlos Acosta is a Cuban ballet dancer who spent a year as an exchange student in Italy. He later received a scholarship to attend the Royal Ballet School in England. He is of mixed Spanish and African heritage.

Many of these individuals headed abroad to study before we had ever heard of them. Their passion for learning and exploring new cultures drew them to study abroad and cultivate their intercultural communication skills. Study abroad naturally lends itself to increased understanding and empathy for more populations, allowing each of these individuals' potential to spread exponentially!

Know of any other Latino/Latina celebrities who took their studies abroad?

Scholarships for Hispanics to Study Abroad
Megan Lee

Megan Lee is an international educator, traveler, and writer. She currently leads study abroad programs in China and the South Pacific. Keep up with her on Twitter @peglegmeg and Google+.