Zaneta Pereira: Woman of the World
Recent alumna Zaneta Pereira will take her Lion spirit, not to mention a Presidential Citation Award, with her to the University of Cambridge in England come fall, as she pursues a Master's in Philosophy. The focus of her studies will be Social and Developmental Psychology.
When asked to describe her time at LMU, one word springs to mind: opportunity.
"LMU is a school where whatever you want to do, there is someone there to help you do it," Zaneta said, "someone to help make your dreams a reality."
Zaneta talks from experience, for not only did she rise through the ranks at the student newspaper The Los Angeles Loyolan, eventually becoming Editor-in-Chief, she was also President of Psi-Chi, the national Honors psychology fraternity.
"LMU was absolutely the right school for me," said Zaneta, adding that while she has loved her time in Los Angeles, she longs to be closer to her family, who reside in Africa. "The UK is a bit more central."
Zaneta is truly an international student. She has called a number of places home. Born in Pune, India, she has lived in Oman, Fiji, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and most recently Nairobi, Kenya before coming to LMU.
"Not being an American citizen at LMU doesn't hold you back in any way," Zaneta said. In fact, she encourages other international students to step outside their comfort zones, or the "international bubble," as she calls it.
And Zaneta is no stranger to slipping into another person's shoes. Over Easter break she took part in Campus Ministry's Student Leader and Ignacio Companion faith-based immersion trip to El Salavador.
"It was amazing to be in El Salvador over Holy Week," Zaneta said, "a country where people really live their faith in a very practical way."
She says that being able to learn about the El Salvadoran's history, their civil wars, but also their hope and faith in the face of adversity, was life changing.
Likewise, last year she ventured with her "Psychology, Spirituality and Liberation" class to a monastery in Big Sur where they attempted to live like monks.
At first she worried she wouldn't be able to handle a whole week devoted to spiritual contemplation void of any distraction, but says it turned out to be one of the most rewarding experiences.
"We cooked, worked in the monks' gardens, had a lot of time for reflection," Zaneta said. "I think it's really wonderful that an academic institution can challenge you in the classroom as well as help one grow spirituality."
Last summer, Zaneta returned to Kenya to do research with the East African Women's League, thanks to an Honors Summer Research Fellowship. The focus was on "third culture children," a term to describe a child who accompanies their parents into another society, one not of their own ethnic origin.
"I'm very intrigued by what it's like to grow up and get older as a third-culture child," Zaneta said. "Mostly due to my own experiences as a third-culture-child."
Looking ahead, Zaneta hopes to intern at the U.N., and eventually take what she's learned in the field of psychology back to Kenya, where she says mental health so often falls by the wayside.
All in all, Zaneta says she is excited to embark on this next chapter of her life, but will miss a very specific thing about LMU:
"The people -- my peers and professors ... they have become like a second family, a support system. That's really what you get at LMU, a family."