Livingstone students encouraged to study abroad

  • Posted: Thursday, February 28, 2013 12:32 a.m.
Dr. Fred Ford, Terri Porter and Candace Miller.
Dr. Fred Ford, Terri Porter and Candace Miller.

Studying abroad is often a life-changing experience, and Livingstone College officials want their students to find out firsthand. So they’re doing everything they can to help them understand why they should strongly consider spending a semester or two overseas.

For example, on Feb. 22 during Dr. M. J. Simms-Maddox’s 8 a.m. comparative politics class, Earl Brown Jr. stopped by to educate students on the merits of studying abroad. Brown is director of Livingstone’s International Program.

He discussed the years he spent in several African countries while working for the Peace Corps and the difference that has made in his life. Brown also talked about his travels in Europe, Asia and South America.

As he spoke, Simms-Maddox showed slides from trips she’s taken abroad, including one with her mother to Zimbabwe in 2000 and a trip last December with her niece to London and Paris.

After Brown extolled studying abroad, Simms-Maddox, chairwoman of the college’s History and Political Science Department, asked whether any of the students wanted to travel, study or work outside the United States. Several said yes, including one who hopes to travel to Africa and Europe.

Some Livingstone College administrators and faculty members attended the class. Dr. Lelia Vickers, vice president of academic affairs, said students’ perspectives change after they study abroad.

“Going abroad is great, and students I know who have gone abroad come back with a different perspective,” Vickers said. “I can’t necessarily explain it, but they do.”

Brown equated studying abroad to viewing a museum painting.

“It’s like taking off the blinders,” he said. “When you study abroad you get to see the U.S. through the eyes of people who don’t have the emotional attachment you have. It’s like going to the museum and looking at a painting. If you’re up close you might miss something, but if you step back you’ll see things you might have missed.”

Vickers, who spent six weeks in China in the mid ’90s as a Fulbright Scholar, has also traveled to several African countries, Europe and South America.

State W. Alexander, executive assistant to the president, Dr. Fred Ford, chairman of the Criminal Justice and Sociology Department, Dr. Chris White, an assistant professor of political science, Dr. Wyndham Whynot, professor of history, Terri Porter, an assistant professor of criminal justice, and Michael Connor, an instructor in the college’s Music and Theater Arts Department, also attended the Feb. 22 class.

Connor said he enjoyed teaching in Hiroshima, Japan, from 1989 to 1991 and mentioned former student Erica D. Farmer, an English major who spent three years teaching in China after graduating from Livingstone in 2008.

White encouraged students to consider studying abroad and said now’s the best time to do it.

“It’s different doing a study abroad program while you’re in your 20s versus waiting until you have the trappings of your career or are married with children,” White said, adding he was last in France in 2009 but spent a majority of his time working.

Brown said he hopes the students will seriously consider studying abroad. So does Simms-Maddox, who ended class with a surprise bouquet of yellow and peach roses for Candace Miller, a senior criminal justice major from Kinston, N.C.

Miller recently scored 153 on the Law School Admission Test, or LSAT. Scores for the half-day, standardized exam range from a low of 120 to a high of 180.

“I think it’s great that she has applied to North Carolina Central University, which has a reputable law school; however, I’m going to work with her on applications to Tier 1 law schools where she’s likely to receive ample assistantships because the more choices she has, the better,” Ford said. “Candace works hard in class and studies hard, but she was born with good critical thinking skills as was reflected in the 153 she scored on the LSAT.”

Miller wasn’t forewarned about the recognition and seemed embarrassed by all of the attention she received.

“We’re very proud of Candace, and I just want the students to understand we promote academic excellence here,” Simms-Maddox said in an interview.

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