CSUB students take advantage of IS program

June 22, 2007
Kathy Miller, 661/654-2456, kmiller26@csub.edu or
Michele Newel, 661/654-2720, mnewell1@csub.edu

Two students from California State University, Bakersfield will be off to Europe this fall to continue their studies. And the great news is that other than their airfare it won't cost them any more than if they were staying in Bakersfield.

Their year abroad is part of the California State University's International Programs, a systemwide program that allows CSU students the opportunity to spend a year at one of more than 50 universities in 19 countries doing coursework for CSU credit.

Currently in its 43rd year of continuous operation, the academic excellence of CSU's International Programs has been recognized by organizations such as the Council on Learning and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. International Programs provides international academic opportunities in the framework of a CSU degree program. With a focus on academic year studies, International Programs offers an array of study options related to specific degree and career objectives.

The CSU International Programs is open to CSU students and to students eligible to transfer from a California community college. Applicants should meet with their International Programs campus coordinator to go over the application procedures.

The two students from CSUB participating this year are:

Marina Avalos-Kegley, who along with Emile Callahan is CSUB's campus co-coordinator for International Programs, said CSUB usually has at least one participant, but would like to see more CSUB students take advantage of the program.

Students participating in the program enjoy huge benefits, Avalos-Kegley said: "It builds the students' resumes and helps them develop self awareness. It gives students a competitive edge, enhances their education, and helps them understand other cultures. I see it as an adventure of a lifetime."

Elizabeth Jackson, CSUB's faculty advisor to the program, also wants to see greater participation, and is working to spread the word about the program.

Last year one student spent the academic year in Australia. In years past, CSUB students have studied in Spain, Canada, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

"There's no limit as to how many students from a campus can go," Avalos-Kegley said. "But since it's a CSU-wide program, it's very competitive." Applicants must have at least a 2.75 grade point average, and must pick a country that corresponds with their major.

The great part is that the year abroad's coursework "counts toward your degree," she said. "And you're paying CSU fees rather than international fees. So participating students only have to pay housing and everyday incidentals, plus transportation to and from the host country. The financial-aid department helps by providing low-interest loans. Chad Morris in financial aid helps with financial aid package, and CSUB Registrar Rita Gustafson ensures the students are registered."

Grall is excited about the year she'll spend at the CSU Study Center in Florence. The center has about 100 students from throughout the CSU broken up into five majors: art history, studio art, architecture, language and literature.

While in Florence she'll be taking 15 units per semester five three-unit classes. Two of her courses will be Italian language classes, plus she will immerse herself in an eight-week language preparation course as soon as she arrives in late August.

She loves traveling, and feels the International Programs provides a great opportunity. "What better way to travel than to live in a country for a year," she said. "I'm looking forward to traveling; I embrace it."

Herrera's goal is to become more fluent in Spanish. "I speak Spanish, but not at the fluency level I want," she said. "Especially with being a future school administrator I see a need for that."

This will be her fourth trip to Spain. "I'll be living with a family in Madrid," she said. "I taught English to their four children two different summers."

She has completed her coursework for her master's in educational administration, and the International Studies program will allow her to focus on her master's degree in Spanish. "I'm extremely excited about the program. I love the Spanish people and culture, and I hope I can be a good representative of CSUB," she said.

Ken Herrera, Stephanie's father, said he thinks her trip will be "fantastic. I love to travel, and got her involved at a young age."

That early experience instilled a yearning to visit more places and see more things. "Every time I go somewhere I realize that there's more out there to see and experience," Stephanie said.

For more information about the CSU International Programs, please call (661) 654-3091.