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Study Abroad Enhances Meredith Graduate Students’ Experiences

By Gaye Hill

Study Abroad Enhances Meredith Graduate Students’ Experiences

By Gaye Hill

Meredith graduate students’ experiences are enhanced by study abroad programs that help them thrive in multicultural work environments.

Graduate students benefit in many of the same ways undergraduates do, such as gaining cross-cultural confidence and acquiring skills and knowledge that are valued by employers. Because graduate students are often further along in their careers, the connections they make between their study abroad experiences and what they are learning in the classroom can be even more valuable.

“The enrichment rotation in Italy was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Melissa Lanes, a dietetic internship student who studied abroad at Meredith’s permanent location in Sansepolcro, Italy. “This rotation allowed me to delve into a society with a completely different perspective on food, nutrition, and sustainability and gave me a new toolbox of nutrition knowledge to come home with.”

The Value of Study Abroad

Meredith graduate education students began studying abroad in 2012. According to Education Professor and Director of Undergraduate Programs in Education Jennifer Olson, teachers benefit uniquely from studying abroad.

“It was extremely important for teachers to experience this program,” said Olson. “Often it was their first time abroad. It helped them understand the English learners in their own classrooms because they experienced what it was like to be in the language minority.”

Olson noted there is an expectation for teachers to bring global perspectives into their teaching, and studying abroad gave them a lot to share upon their return. “For the teachers who experienced this program, it was often life-changing,” she said.

Joe Mazzola, associate professor and director of the Industrial-Organizational (I-O) Psychology program, sees value in helping students step out of their comfort zones.

“Culture, both national and organizational, affects how students would consult within real-world companies. While the things we learn from books and classes throughout the program are important, how they implement them effectively in their jobs will depend quite a bit on those cultures and other individualized factors,” said Mazzola.

Luisa Jaramillo, ’22, M.A. in I-O Psychology, said her study abroad experience was an ideal introduction to Italy.

“It was a wonderfully curated trip that invited me to appreciate the beauty and history of Italy through an authentic lens … looking at life, culture, and work through the perspective of the people of Sansepolcro and the surrounding Tuscany region,” said Jaramillo.

Taylor Berry, ’24, another I-O psychology student, said the intimate nature of her program contributed to her experience.

“I am so grateful that I got to experience it all with some of the most amazing friends, as our cohort is very close-knit,” said Berry. “We met with leaders and business owners to discuss business/HR practices in Italy across different fields. We compared and contrasted these practices with those in the U.S. and learned that while both countries may have different approaches, employee well-being is a main concern in both cultures.”

About the Programs

Given that many graduate students at Meredith are working professionals, the study abroad programs are typically shorter in length and often take place in the summer months, when workplaces are used to accommodating employee absences. Meredith’s Sansepolcro location has established community connections and more availability during the summer months, making it a natural choice for graduate programs. But that’s not the only place Meredith grad students go.

The MBA program has taken students to various locations around the world, including China, Peru, and this summer, Salzburg, Austria. There, students will spend two weeks learning about international business and effective leadership across cultures.

“For MBA students, there’s immense value in seeing how business works in a country with predominantly smaller-sized organizations and varying workplace norms and expectations,” said Ele Roberts, associate director of MBA admissions. “The experience supplements concepts students learn in their courses about appreciating and adapting to other cultures and leading organizations where employees have diverse backgrounds – skills that are continually more important in our globalized society.”

As is the case with undergraduate study abroad, those planning and leading graduate programs at Meredith work to make them affordable through scholarships, financial planning worksheets, and study abroad funding workshops.

Director of International Programs Brooke Shurer is delighted by the growing number of programs for graduate students.

“This summer, we will be sending the largest number of graduate students abroad that we ever have! I am thrilled for these students to gain a cross-cultural lens on their professional fields, deepen relationships with their faculty and peers, and grow their intercultural competence,” said Shurer. “Many of our graduate applicants share how much they regret not studying abroad as undergraduates, so it’s wonderful that they have this unique opportunity through their graduate programs.”

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