Katelyn Erickson, a Arbuckle, CA native, traveled to England and Ireland this summer as part of Belmont University’s largest group of student travelers in university history. With more than 500 students participating, 22 programs were held in May and 9 programs are currently underway as students embark on adventures in nearly 30 countries including South Africa, Ireland, China, Austria, Greece and Argentina, among others.
The University has an institutional mission to provide students with ways to engage and transform the world, and Office of Study Abroad Director Shelley Jewell argues this means encouraging as many students as possible to take part in study abroad opportunities. “Belmont seeks to graduate students who received a well-rounded education and are competitive in the job market. The university recognizes that we live in an increasingly interconnected world and in order to be successful, students should have awareness not only of our nation, but of other cultures around the world,” Jewell said. “Studying abroad provides a window into other cultures and gives students a competitive edge when job seeking or applying to graduate school.”
Jewell said she and her team set a lofty goal of sending more than 600 students abroad throughout the fall, spring and summer semesters. Including the 506 who will be traveling this summer, a total of 612 students have participated this year. Jewell attributes this success to a number of factors including campus engagement, faculty programming, a new website and most importantly-the office’s student ambassador program. “The greatest advocates to study abroad are those students who have done it themselves-their ability to connect with their peers and encourage participating in programs is so valuable,” Jewell said. “We have so many engaged and outstanding study abroad students who speak so articulately about their programs.”
Though the connection to the University’s mission and the acceptance of a globally-focused mind are major selling points for studying abroad, Jewell said it’s important to understand that the opportunity to spend an extended period of time away from home isn’t something that will likely come around again for many students. “We hear so frequently from college graduates that their biggest regret in college was not studying abroad. So if I can get one message to students and parents it is this-the time to do this is now! We have the resources on our campus to make it happen.”