For 40 years, I have been extolling the virtues of my education at MTSU (B.A., International Relations and History, French minor, ’81; Teacher Certification, ’86). No matter the context or situation, the thoughts of my years at MTSU always brought a smile to my face, a feeling of immense accomplishment, and a warm nostalgia for all things Blue Raider.
During my undergraduate program, I was fortunate enough to do two study abroad programs directed by History professor (now emeritus) Ron Messier—a three-month Western Europe cultural history program in 1979 and a three-month Mediterranean cultural history program in 1981. These two programs were the defining moments of my life and the single most important factors in launching me toward an international career path. Since then, I have been a walking advertisement for education abroad and know well the transformative impact it can have on a student’s career.
Probably the greatest gift studying abroad gave me was an awareness of the vast culture and history of our planet. It provided me with the encouragement and motivation to study and learn more about art, history, politics, sociology, languages, and current events. I was almost ashamed of how little I knew and how much I needed to know. After each program, I came home reinvigorated to immerse myself in languages, history, art, and with an insatiable curiosity of learning and of all things foreign to my experiences. I gained not only knowledge and a certain worldliness, but also a determination to seek cultural understanding and not to be culturally unaware. I returned from these programs with a commitment to pursue a career that involved travel, languages, and cultural understanding. And that is exactly what I did.
My career has included over 30 years teaching (French, German, Spanish, and English as a second language), serving as the K–12 International Baccalaureate district coordinator in a metro Atlanta school system, consulting on international programs development for the Center for the Advancement and Study of International Education (CASIE) in Atlanta, 10 years as associate vice president of international programs at the University of North Georgia, an international education consultant in my own business, and now back at MTSU as an international student recruiter. I owe everything to these two formative experiences at MTSU. I am eternally grateful to my professors like Messier, International Relations faculty advisor Jack Turner, and French faculty advisor June McCash and to MTSU for setting me on this path. It is such a joy to be able to return to this beautiful campus to conclude my career where it began. I have come full circle.