As Rebecca Brett Changed, So Did Global Liberal Studies

Embracing your unique qualities takes time and courage—and the support of a degree program that has room for every kind of person

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Rebecca Brett sitting in a patch of flowers.

Coming from the small town of Eustis, Florida, senior Rebecca S. Brett had rarely left the south growing up. Despite that, the Social and Cultural Analysis and Global Liberal Studies major says, when it was time to pick a college, she knew she was ready for something different. “It’s a cliché, but I wanted to be in a city as big as my dreams.” Since then, she’s lived in three: Florence, London, and, of course, New York City.

Experiencing the Wider World

Because she knew she was ready for a change in her experience, Rebecca came to NYU as a Global Liberal Studies student. Over four years and three campuses, she experienced tremendous personal growth. What’s more, she found that the program could more than accommodate her changing needs and interests.

“The meaning of Global Liberal Studies will change every year depending on the individual student. When I was an admitted student, Global Liberal Studies to me meant a way to study abroad for two full years. It also meant the freedom to write a thesis on my topic of choice,” she says. “When I was a sophomore, I told my family exactly what I had memorized from the GLS website: ‘Global Liberal Studies is an interdisciplinary bachelor’s degree that brings the liberal arts into the global twenty-first century—equipping you with the skills to excel in a changing world.”’

“Now as a graduating senior, I know GLS as an intersectional degree that empowers students to solve problems they care about at the global level. GLS can be broad. It can can be specific. GLS means rolling with the punches. It also means spending every day considering how your actions can make a difference in an increasingly interconnected world.”

Rebecca Brett smiling for a photo.
Rebecca Brett holding her dogs.

The Cure for Imposter Syndrome

Despite this impressive transformation, Rebecca’s path wasn’t without bumps. And like many students, she struggled with imposter syndrome when she arrived in Florence for her first year at NYU (many GLS students study away their first year). “My first day in an NYU classroom I was scared to my core. This horror was only exacerbated when I met my fellow classmates and professors. They were all geniuses! Their grammar? Impeccable. Their ability to formulate an argument? Profound. And then there was me, the girl who said ‘should of’ instead of ‘should have’ and commonly forgot to capitalize her ‘i’s,’ she says.

Support from professors and staff helped Rebecca overcome this anxiety and see her true potential. At the NYU Florence writing center, Rebecca worked to improve her writing skills each week. And through a job for local children, she built her Italian skills. Over time, she realized that she had just as much to offer as any of her peers. “You don’t get into NYU unless something about you is particularly unique. With an ever-decreasing acceptance rate, NYU looks for students who shine. I knew this when I applied, and I think this is why I was shocked when I got accepted! What did NYU see in my application that I had failed to see in myself?” she wondered.

“Over the course of my time at NYU, I’ve learned that my ‘shining’ characteristic is my work ethic. I work a full-time job with a full-time course-load. Plus, I am an RA, part of Liberal Studies Student Council, and participate in multiple other extracurriculars—and I love it!” For other students experiencing the same feelings she once did, Rebecca offers some advice. “You’ve already won the hardest battle: admittance into NYU. If you don’t already know why you shine, you’ll find out soon enough.”

What the Future Holds

After all of her experiences in GLS, Rebecca is poised for her next adventure, this time in Galway, Ireland, as NYU’s first Mitchell Scholar. Studying at the National University of Ireland, she’ll earn her master’s degree in Gender, Globalisation, and Rights. From there, the current paralegal plans to attend law school so she can become an immigration lawyer, helping people from around the world access the same opportunities she has received. From there, the sky’s the limit. “I know I won’t be satisfied with helping only a handful of individuals,” Rebecca says. “My dream is to implement change on a much larger scale.”