Eastern Named to Princeton Review’s 2020 ‘Best Colleges’ Guide

Eastern Connecticut State University has been recognized by in the Princeton Review in its “2020 Best Colleges” guide for the Northeast region. Featured schools were chosen based on survey results from 140,000 students across the country. Eastern was praised for its small class sizes, close-knit campus community and affordability. 

Home to 5,200 students annually, Eastern students come from 160 of Connecticut’s 169 towns, along with 29 other states and 20 other countries. The 16:1 student to faculty ratio encourages group discussions and teamwork. Eastern offers 41 majors and 59 minors, with a liberal arts curriculum that’s rooted deep in the school’s mission to provide students with a well-rounded education. Eastern was also ranked among the top 25 public universities in the North Region by U.S. News and World Report in its 2020 Best College ratings.

Eastern also offers 18 NCAA Division III sports teams, more than 90 registered student organizations and 17 honors societies. Eastern’s athletic mission is to emphasize values such as diversity, sportsmanship, health, wellbeing and equity. Eastern hosted its annual President’s Picnic and Student-Club Fair. In spring of 2019, more than 50 percent of Eastern students participated in at least one club. Clubs with the highest membership last semester were Eastern Outdoors Club, Freedom at Eastern and People Helping People. Eastern is also home to student services such as the Womens Center, LGBT support groups and minority support groups. Eastern was awarded the ‘Green Campus’ Status by Princeton Review for the ninth year in a row in fall 2018.

Written by Molly Boucher

Courant Names Eastern a ‘Top Workplace’

For the eighth time the Hartford Courant has recognized Eastern Connecticut State University in its “Top Workplaces” survey. With almost 1,000 employees, Eastern ranked 10th in the “large” category, and was the only public higher education institution recognized among 60 organizations in Hartford, Middlesex, Tolland, Windham and New London counties. Results were published on Sept. 22 in the Hartford Courant.

“We are honored to be recognized once again as a top workplace in Connecticut,” said Eastern’s President Elsa Núñez. “Even though Eastern was recognized in the large organization category, our university has always prided itself on being a close-knit community and a welcoming, inclusive campus for students, faculty and staff. The Courant’s announcement reminds us that Eastern is a stable, inspiring place for our faculty and staff to come to work each day, and a supportive learning environment for our students. I am very pleased that we were among those recognized.”

Surveys were administered on behalf of the Courant by Energage, LLC, a research and consulting firm that has conducted employee surveys for more than 50,000 organizations. Rankings were based on confidential survey results completed by employees of the participating organizations. This year’s Courant survey surveyed 29,000 employees across the state.

The survey included 24 statements, with employees asked to assess each one on a scale from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree.” Topics included organizational direction, workplace conditions, effectiveness, managers and compensation. Each company was assigned a score based on a formula.

To honor all “Top Workplaces,” The Hartford Courant held its annual awards program on Sept. 19 at the Aqua Turf Club in Plantsville, CT, where it announced the top workplaces in each category.

Written by Vania Galicia

Eastern a Top 25 Public Regional University in U.S. News and World Report

The class of 2023 gathered for a group photo during the Fall 2019 Warrior Welcome weekend–Eastern draws students from 160 of Connecticut’s 169 towns

 Eastern Connecticut State University is again the highest ranked institution among Connecticut’s four state universities in this year’s U.S. News and World Report’s edition of “Best Colleges.” The 2020 rankings were released on Sept. 9.

This is Eastern’s highest ranking ever as it was ranked 21st among public universities in the North Region. Eastern moved up five spots among public institutions over last year’s rankings and moved up 13 spots when both public and private institutions were considered.

Under the mentorship of Biology Professor Vijaykumar Veerappan, Roshani Budhathoki ’19 was selected for an undergraduate fellowship by the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB).

.The North Region includes colleges and universities from New England, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland, and is known as the most competitive among the four regions that make up the U.S. News and World Report ranking system.

Regional universities such as Eastern are ranked based on 15 criteria that include peer assessment, graduation and retention rates, class size, faculty resources, admissions selectivity, financial resources and alumni giving.

“Given the uncertain times facing the higher education community, I am delighted to see Eastern achieving its highest ranking ever,” said Eastern President Elsa Nunez. “This is a testament to our commitment to high standards and the faculty and staff’s focus on providing students with personal attention. Our improved ranking this year is due to our rising graduation and retention rates as well as the continued quality of our incoming classes.

 Environmental earth science students traveled to the mountains of Wyoming and Idaho this summer for a geology field course led by Eastern faculty.:

“Students and their families turn to the Best Colleges rankings to help decide where to attend college. These newest rankings reaffirm that Eastern is providing a relevant and high-quality education on our beautiful residential campus.”

This year’s U.S. News and World Report rankings included reviews of upwards of 1,400 schools nationwide and are available at www.usnews.com/colleges. They will also be published in the Best Colleges 2020 Guidebook, published by U.S. News & World Report and available on newsstands on Oct. 15.

For the past 35 years, the U.S. News and World Report rankings, which group colleges based on categories created by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, have grown to be the most comprehensive research tool for students and parents considering higher education opportunities.

Written by Ed Osborn

Argentina to Italy, Students Spend Summer Abroad

Photo provided by Brooke Shannon, in Ireland.
Brooke Shannon studied in Ireland.
Jaran Smith studied and interned in Argentina.
Amanda Mitchell studied in France.

 

From Argentina to Italy, a number of adventurous Eastern students studied abroad this summer, honing second languages and immersing themselves in new cultures.  

Psychology major Amanda Mitchell ’19 traveled to Provence, France, to study French at Aix-Marseille University. Speaking to her progress with the French language, she said, “I was able to communicate with and make friends from all over the world. I began to really learn a new language and use that language every day.” She added, “This trip put into perspective how many people there are whom I would never get the chance to meet otherwise.”

Business administration major Lucinda Davis ’20 traveled to Sorrento, Italy, to study global business at the Sant’Anna Institute where she attended a five-week course called “Competing in the Global Environment: Business in the European Union.” Highlights of her trip included traveling outside of her studies and visiting Mount Vesuvius, Capri, Pompeii, Pisa, Milan and Venice.

Spanish major Jaran Smith ’19 traveled to Argentina for an internship with Buenos Aires International Students, a non-governmental organization based in Buenos Aires that facilities study abroad trips. “The internship combined both of my main focuses at Eastern — Spanish and economics,” said Smith. His role dealt with collecting data and helping to organize travel packages to different areas across Latin America.

“Of everything I did during my time abroad, going to Calafate was the most exciting,” he said of the southern Argentina locale. “We traveled to the Patagonian glacial region and witnessed breathtaking views of the Perito Moreno Glacier and the Andes Mountains. The memories I made during my stay in Argentina are ones I’ll keep with me for the rest of my life!”

Lucinda Davis studied in Italy.
Photo provided by Lucinda Davis, in Italy.
Ashley Smith studied in Spain.
Brooke Shannon studied in Ireland.

 

Elementary education major Brooke Shannon ’19 studied abroad in Ireland, learning about Irish society and culture. Speaking of a course she took on Irish film and literature, she said, “I learned how Ireland is portrayed in movies and literature, and which portrayals were accurate and which were stereotypical.”

Noting the differences in culture between Ireland and the United States, she said, “I loved being in a culture that’s different from that of America. It’s a culture that doesn’t have such an emphasis on being successful and making money. They’re not worried about having the nicest cars or houses; they just want to have fun, no matter what age they are.”

Elementary education and Spanish double-major Ashley Smith ’20 traveled to Barcelona, Spain, to practice her Spanish and study art and culture. “This trip definitely helped me to feel more confident and comfortable speaking Spanish,” she said, “as well as gave me an inside look of life in a Spanish-speaking country. This experience made me more independent and broadened my perspective of the world and other cultures.”

Young Writers Inspired by Month Abroad in Italy

The Eastern group poses for a photo at Florence’s Uffizi art gallery.

Fifteen students from Eastern Connecticut State University spent the month of July in Italy, writing short stories inspired by Italian culture and history. English Professor Chris Torockio led the group of young writers through the five-week field course titled “Creative Writing Abroad.”  Based in Florence, the students met for writing workshops at Studio Arts College International (SACI) and wrote stories based on their explorations of Tuscany and beyond.

“Studying abroad in Italy for five weeks was one of the greatest experiences of my educational career,” said English major Ashlee Shafer ’19. “I worked on a short story about a college student who’s studying art history in Florence, struggling with family issues and her own sexuality. I used landmarks and scenery to describe the setting. Being able to actually live in and explore Florence helped immensely with the setting and art-history information for my story.”

The massive Duomo cathedral in Florence-- Chris Torockio
Pompeii-- Jordan Corey
Capri, Amalfi Coast-- Jordan Corey
Students tour the Uffizi-- Chris Torockio
Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre-- Jordan Corey
Vernazza, Cinque Terre-- Joyce Figueroa
Piazzale Michelangelo

 

Jordan Corey, an English major and spring 2019 graduate, wrote a story centered around the historical figure Girolamo Savonarola, an Italian-Dominican monk who was executed in Florence in 1498. “I did a bit of research to produce this story,” said Corey, “from reading up on Savonarola’s extensive history to visiting his statue in person.”

Reflecting on her extended stay abroad, Corey said, “I think it’s impossible to go on a trip of this magnitude and not come back changed in some way. There’s an undeniable element of exploration attached to living in a new country for more than a month. I have a better understanding of my goals as a writer, of my connections with people, and of the steps I need to take to fulfill my plans. A momentary switch in culture does wonders for a recent college graduate.”

Art major Julianna Tigeleiro ’21 wrote a story that deals with grief and the emotional impact of travel on a person’s life. “There’s a big emphasis on how actions in the past can affect the future,” she said, “and the impact that different experiences can have on how someone perceives events in their life.”

Speaking to the writing workshops, she said, “Being in Italy with amazing writers my age who take writing seriously and care about improving their work as well as giving feedback was a great inspiration.”

The sun sets behind the mountains at Vernazza, Cinque Terre. Photo courtesy of Joyce Figueroa.

Communication and English double-major Joyce Figueroa ’21 wrote a story that follows a day in the life of a girl who lives in Cinque Terre, a string of seaside villages along Italy’s rugged northwestern coast. “We interacted with many locals who helped us to experience Vernazza authentically,” she said of her visit to one of Cinque Terre’s five villages. “The people were very inviting, pointing out fun activities and their favorite restaurants. It’s because of this experience that I chose Vernazza as the setting of my story.”

“Traveling abroad is such a valuable experience for students, especially those in creative fields,” Figueroa added. “It allows us to step out of our comfort zone and experience new things. That kind of learning is not something we get to experience in the classroom. These lessons will stay with me for years.”

Other highlights of the trip included tours of art galleries and landmarks, such as Florence’s Duomo cathedral and Uffizi art gallery, and trips to the towered Tuscan village of San Gimignano, the beachy city Viareggio and the picturesque coastal villages of Cinque Terre.  

Written by Michael Rouleau

New Media Students Participate in Prague Quadrennial Festival

PQ was held at the Prague Industrial Palace and Exhibition Grounds.

A group of Eastern students traveled to the Czech Republic from June 3–17 for the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space (PQ). The global field course titled “Theatre on Tour” exposed New Media Studies and Theatre students to some of the ground-breaking developments happening in the world of performance space and design. The two-week course was led by Professors Kristen Morgan and Anya Sokolovskaya. 

PQ was established in 1967 to showcase the best in performance design, scenography and theatre architecture. This year’s festival took place at Prague’s Industrial Palace and Exhibition Grounds, where students watched and participated in performances, discussions, lectures and workshops with fellow artists from 79 countries.

The Eastern group poses for a photo by the John Lennon Wall.

A highlight for Olivia Wronka ’22 included the performance titled “Vertical Dance,” which consisted of choreographed dancers moving along the side of a building. “It was an awe-inspiring performance and the first to make me feel emotional,” she said. “This field course opened my eyes to the incredibly advanced artistry that is out there.”

Students attend the PQ Talk on the field of new media.

Cody Motivans ’19 was struck by the performance “Morning, Afternoon, Evening, Night,” which involved actors portraying a feuding couple. Viewers were given headsets with dialogue saying what the couple was thinking but not saying out loud. “It was fascinating to watch, and showed how we filter ourselves,” he said. “It would be an incredible element to incorporate into a show at Eastern.”

Certain performances left the students puzzled. For example, Denmark’s presentation of “The Virgin” consisted of a man spinning slowly in a glass box. At 2 p.m. each afternoon, blood was drawn from him and put up for raffle. “It was one of the most bizarre and unique art works I have ever witnessed,” said Motivans. “This study experience showed me that art doesn’t have any limits. I was left stunned with a reality check of what art means.”  

Monique Allen ’20 echoed that sentiment. “This field course showed me how far new media can be expanded. I will take what I learned to further my own experiences and future projects.”

The opening night of “Blue Hour,” which Eastern student Sierra Reynolds helped run.

Sierra Reynolds ’20 was able to volunteer behind the scenes on the production “PQ 360/Blue Hour.” The interactive virtual reality exhibition wound up being short staffed the night before its opening show. She eventually served as floor manager after volunteering for multiple days, and was presented with a certificate of exemplary service at the conclusion of the festival.  

“I decided to stick around to learn how to operate the system,” she said. “I was lucky to be a part of the production, especially considering my concentration is production/stage management — my skill set fit the bill of what they needed.”

Reynolds added, “This field course allowed me to see what professionals and students are bringing to the field. Also, my classmates and professors were there to ground me and push me forward. There was a support system that wouldn’t have been established if I had gone to Prague by myself.”

Professors Morgan and Sokolovskaya, along with Eastern Theatre Professor Alycia Bright-Holland, also presented at the festival. They discussed “Designing Thread City: Performance as Public Dialogue” at the PQ Talks session.

In addition to immersing in PQ and meeting industry peers and professionals from across the world, the Eastern group spent time exploring Prague’s sites and historical heritage. Highlights included the David Czerny sculpture walk, a guided tour of the Prague Palace and a tour of the Jewish Quarter.

Written by Vania Galicia and Michael Rouleau

Field Courses Bring Students to Bahamas, Western U.S., Italy

Eastern biology students on the North Point of San Salvador Island, Bahamas.
Biology students on San Salvador Island, Bahamas.
EES students study geology in the American West.
EES students study geology in the American West.
EES students study geology in the American West.
Business students at the United Nations in Rome, Italy.
Business students at the Colosseum in Rome, Italy.

 

In the weeks following Commencement, three groups of Eastern students traveled to San Salvador Island in the Bahamas, Italy, Idaho, Utah and Wyoming to engage in exciting Global Field Courses. 

Tropical Biology in the Bahamas

On San Salvador Island and surrounding waters 19 students accompanied by Biology professors Kristen Epp, Brett Mattingly and Josh Idjadi, examined the ecology of marine and terrestrial organisms from May 14-25. The 10-day field experience was headquartered at Gerace Research Centre (GRC) from which students ventured daily; nightly lab sessions and discussions supplemented each day’s field observations.

Marine studies focused on coral reef, sea grass bed, mangrove, beach and rocky shore communities, while terrestrial studies examined cave, mud flat, and sand dune and upland shrub communities. On a visit to Oyster Pond, some students swam across the pond (about a half-mile) to arrive at a vent through which the water in the pond communicates tidally with the ocean. Students also visited a very large cave to see native bats and other cave-dwelling creatures including an endemic isopod.

Environmental Earth Science in the Wild West

EES students study geology in the American West.

Geology came to life in the field, as the Environmental Earth Science (EES) field course to Wyoming and Idaho from May 24-June 3 introduced 23 EES majors to concepts in geology and environmental earth science. The course included a lecture course prior to the trip that provided background knowledge and a regional geological context for the field excursion.

During the field course, students placed emphasis on group observations and discussions. At each location, faculty and students spent time collecting observations and drawing conclusions about the geological features, earth processes and environmental issues relevant to that location. In the evenings, everyone met and reviewed what we saw that day, to reinforce and expand on key concepts and learning points. 

Highlights included seeing the vast geothermal features and beautiful landscapes of Yellowstone, the stunning beauty of the Grand Tetons, the bleak lava plains and diverse volcanic landforms of Craters of the Moon National Monument, and the high alpine zone of the Idaho Rockies.  In addition, students saw wonderful wildlife including grizzly and black bears, moose, elk, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, bald eagles and many bison, including newborn calves.  A rafting excursion down the Snake River, a tram ride to 10,500 feet elevations in Jackson Hole, WY, and fossil fish collecting in the Green River Basin rounded out the trip.   The excursion was a marvelous experience for students and faculty.  The EES extended field course has now become an annual highlight in the EES department.

Business students at the United Nations in Rome, Italy.

How Business is Conducted in Italy

From May 22–June 3, Professor Emiliano Villanueva, associate professor business administration, led 18 students on a trip to Rome and Perugia, Italy, or the seminar “International Business in an International Setting.” Prior to their departure for Italy, the students researched a range of topics related to business in Italy and gave 30-minute presentations to their class.

Upon their return, students submitted in-depth, 20-page reports reflecting on their experiences in Italy. Topics included the “History and Geography of Italy, “History of Rome,” “Government and Politics in Italy,; “Culture in Italy,” “GDP and the Economy of Italy,” “Business Opportunities in Italy,” “Business Rtiquette and the Italian Language” and “Rome and Vatican Sightseeing.”

Written by Dwight Bachman

Biology Students Study in Deserts of the Southwest

Eastern students walk through a massive salt flat in Badwater Basin, Death Valley National Park.

A group of Eastern students recently returned from the American Southwest after studying desert ecology in a global field course (GFC) with the biology department. The trip took place from March 9–17 and was supervised by Professors Brett Mattingly and Matthew Graham.

Students conduct vegetation surveys in the Mojave Desert.

The course was an introduction to the study of desert ecology and biogeography. In the Mojave and Sonoran desert systems, students examined how environmental factors and biotic interactions shape the diversity and distribution of arid-adapted plant and animal communities from local to ecoregional scales. They evaluated how these communities are assembled over ecological and geological timescales.

Students executed plant surveys and set up arachnid traps under various light treatments. Four different species of scorpions and a camel spider were collected for analysis, as Graham is in the process of studying camel spiders with a major grant from the National Science Foundation.

Weather conditions such as wind, rain, snow and sand storms impacted data gathering. “The weather was a lot colder than we expected, so we saw less reptiles and invertebrates than other classes, unfortunately,” said Margalit Kaufman ‘19. “The plant life was plentiful, however, so we were still able to do research on biodiversity, especially that of vegetation.”

Though they were not able to collect many camel spiders for analysis, Alexsis Powell ‘20 noted that the trip was not any less hands-on. “It was still fun learning how to set up the traps,” she added. “At first, I was upset that I would not get the traditional ‘desert experience,’ but as the week went on, I was grateful that it was not extremely hot, because that would have made the long hikes more difficult.”

Ashley Dupuis ’19 continued: “The environment exposed me to a set of community diversity in which I was not accustomed to.” The students utilized an online platform called iNaturalist, which is a social network composed of naturalists, citizen scientists and biologists that shares and maps observations of biodiversity across the globe.

The most memorable part of the GFC for Powell was searching for scorpions. “It was awesome being able to see animals that you can’t find here in Connecticut.” The trip made her realize how much she enjoys doing fieldwork.

Kaufman and Dupuis cited visiting Death Valley in Eastern California as their favorite part of the trip, appreciating the ecosystem and natural beauty they encountered. Moreover, Dupuis valued spending time disconnected from “artificial” human reality.

“Packing up your house and carrying it on your back every day is a surreal feeling,” she said. “I gained peace of mind on this trip that solidified my feelings to become a field biologist, no matter how competitive.” She is considering graduate school for the future and wants to continue doing desert research out West.

Kaufman also plans to attend graduate school, in pursuit of evolutionary biology. “This course will have been helpful in terms of understanding comparative anatomy and ecology, evolutionary adaptations in desert species and paleontology.”

The GFC programs at Eastern serve a growing population of students and aim to reinforce a global and liberal arts focus to professional preparation.

“I believe the field experience I gained will help me stand out and convince someone to take a chance on me, leading me toward a successful career,” concluded Dupuis.

Written by Jordan Corey

Revelations Abound in Hawaii for Eastern Students

Photo by Kristalyn Salters-Pedneault.

Twenty psychology students expanded their worldview over winter session during a global field course in Hawaii. Titled “Cross-Cultural Well-Being and Relationships in Hawaii,” the course ran from Jan. 2–11. Students were immersed in the local culture and visited some of the island chain’s most breathtaking sites.

“This course was designed to provide an overview of cross-cultural issues related to well-being and relationships,” said Psychology Professor Madeleine Fugère, who led the trip with Professor Kristalyn Salters-Pedneault. “Aspects of well-being and relationships were examined from Western and native-Hawaiian perspectives.”

The Eastern students examined differences in attachment styles, social support, parenting, psychological disorders, personality and emotional expression, physical attraction, romantic relationships and compassionate love.

“I came to realize some of my own cultural biases,” said Danielle Gallagher ’20. “Being aware of these biases will enable me to interact better with individuals from a multitude of cultural backgrounds, which will not only help me in achieving my career goals, but in my daily interactions in general.”

The Eastern group volunteered at an ancient fish farm that is damaged by storms and invasive plant growth. They helped rebuild a portion of the wall that surrounds the pond, and cut and burned invasive mangrove. Photo by Madeleine Fugère.

One of the students’ most impactful realizations was how the native people relate interpersonally. “Hawaiians have a strong sense of family and community,” said Erica Mchugh ’19. “They call everyone cousin, uncle and other familial terms. Throughout our trip, many of the locals referred to us as cousins, even though we had never met them before.

“Hawaiians put a lot of emphasis on the ‘aloha spirit’ and treating everyone with kindness,” added Mchugh. “We’re not used to this concept in the Northeast. Most of the time we don’t think to stop and say hi to a stranger.”

Cooled lava from the eruptions of summer 2018 cover a roadway. Photo by Brianna Starkey.

What struck Brianna Starkey ’19 was how the natives regard members of the LGBTQ community. “Native Hawaiians have a much more accepting approach to individuals in this community, especially transgender individuals,” she said. “We learned that individuals who identify with both masculine and feminine genders are called ‘mahu,’ which means having the spirit of a male and female. These people are not judged as having something wrong with them like they often are in our culture.”

Another revelation was the people’s connection to the land, and their respect for volcanic activity. “We spent so much time in nature — restoring an ancient fish pond, exploring lava tubes, hiking the ancient petroglyph trail — it was impossible to ignore the respect for the land all around us,” said Gallagher, who remarked on the prevalence of signs reminding nature goers to be respectful of wildlife, as well as the cultural emphasis to live more sustainably.

“‘Pele’ is the goddess of the volcanoes, who is credited with creating the islands,” said Gallagher. “There is a lot of respect for Pele and her land because Hawaiians feel it is a gift that they are able to be there. There is no sense of entitlement or ownership over the land, but gratitude and respect toward it.”

Signs dot the Hawaiian countryside telling people to respect the land. Photo by Danielle Gallagher.

During a tour in which the Eastern group saw a road covered in hardened lava from the volcanic eruptions of summer 2018, the guide informed them that Hawaiians don’t divert the lava’s path, out of respect for Pele.

“This mindset was incredibly hard for me to relate to because there is a strong sense of land ownership in our culture and it’s rare to see such passivity in relation to natural events,” added Gallagher. “Our culture attempts to exert control over events as much as possible, rather than accepting and embracing them as they come.”

Another highlight of the trip was a volunteer project at the 800-year-old Pae Pae fishpond, which is a source of food for the locals but currently damaged by storms and the growth of invasive plant species.

The Eastern group also went on several excursions to sites such as Pearl Harbor, Puako Petroglyph Field, Rainbow Falls, Imiloa Astronomy Center, Volcanoes National Park, Punalu’u Black Sand Beach, Pu’uhonoa o Honaunau National Historic Park, and St. Benedict’s Catholic Church (Painted Church). 

Written by Michael Rouleau

Students Gain Insights Abroad: Ireland and Greece

Mackenzie Seymour ’20 studied abroad in Ireland.

Chelsy Popo ’19 studied abroad in Greece.

Eastern Connecticut State University students Chelsy Popo ’19 and Mackenzie Seymour ’20 recently completed semesters abroad this fall. They studied in Greece and Ireland, respectively.

Popo, who majors in political science, believes that studying abroad is invaluable because it allows students the opportunity to see the world. “My coursework at Hellenic American University in Athens included a class called ‘Athens Across the Ages.’ Each session was held at a different location in Athens, so I was able to visit and learn about many of the ancient sites and museums, in addition to more modern locations in the city.”

The destinations Popo found most memorable were the Acropolis and the Parthenon in Athens, as well as the island of Crete. She also enjoyed visiting Meteora, a rock formation in central Greece that hosts one of the largest, most precipitously built complexes of Eastern Orthodox monasteries. She took side trips to London, Paris, Budapest and Amsterdam.

Mackenzie Seymour

“I never expected to study in Ireland, but it was the best decision I’ve ever made,” said Seymour, an accounting major. Like Popo, she visited nearby countries, such as Spain, England, the Netherlands and Italy, while exploring Ireland itself. “I had the most fun traveling within Ireland, to Galway, Dublin, Cork and the Ring of Kerry, a scenic route in southwest Ireland. It looked like a breathtaking painting — and has become my favorite place.” Seymour noted her appreciation for learning about unfamiliar cultures along the way.

Popo similarly found herself intrigued by the environment she lived in. “It was interesting to study in Greece as a political science major, since Athens is known as the birthplace of democracy and because of the current political climate.” Popo also enjoyed the Mediterranean climate and the warm, welcoming people she encountered.

Seymour said study abroad programs help students step out of their normal lives. “Many of us are used to a normal routine — it can be hard to change things,” she said. “I believe that it’s important to explore life and experience new things. I became more independent and mature because of my trip. I have returned to America a much stronger person.”

Chelsy Popo

Popo concurred: “Once I made up my mind to step outside my comfort zone, I learned so much about the world and myself. The experiences and connections have helped me become a global citizen.” She plans to study international or criminal law after graduating.

“I have become extremely grateful for my time at Eastern and am excited about returning to continue with my classes,” concluded Seymour, who wants to attend graduate school to become a certified public accountant. “The professors go above and beyond to assist students in understanding the subjects we are studying, and after studying abroad, I can say for sure that my favorite part of Eastern is the academics.”

Written by Jordan Corey