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Alumnae promote benefits of study abroad

Kelly Konya | Thursday, November 21, 2013

Three Saint Mary’s alumnae took part in a panel discussion Wednesday to highlight the impact of study abroad experiences on careers.

Class of 2006 alumna Molly Monceaux, manager of ideation at Just Marketing International, began the presentation by discussing her yearlong experience in Ireland and the effect it had on her career in marketing.

“When I came to Saint Mary’s, I definitely wasn’t prepared to be at school on my own yet,” Monceaux said.  “So my first semester abroad was a lot of getting acclimated and meeting people, and then second semester was a blast because I was comfortable and could really enjoy the experiences much more.”

When she returned, she was a completely different person from when she left for Ireland, Monceaux said

“I fell into an internship with a marketing agency in Indianapolis, and [after graduation] I worked on a Chevrolet racing team. This skyrocketed my career because I made a ton of connections,” Monceaux said.  “It was an opportunity for me to use the traits I learned studying abroad.”

Studying abroad teaches students to live and work independently, adapt quickly to new situations, be financially responsible, be exposed to new philosophies and to develop global-mindedness, Monceaux said.

“It’s key to approach study abroad as an educational experience,” Monceaux said. “Don’t go out as a tourist, but really get into the culture because that way, you will learn a lot about yourself.”

Kara Kelly, a member of the class of 1996 and director of communications for the City of South Bend, said she also studied abroad in Ireland during her time at Saint Mary’s.

Kelly said she experienced a different community atmosphere while abroad.

“Through study abroad, I experienced a sense of community that I never felt, even in my hometown,” Kelly said.  “I now feel a deeper connection to the larger world.”

Kelly said her study abroad experience helped her realize the power of communication across cultural boundaries and the importance of sprouting from our personal, familiar worlds.

Class of 1992 alumna Catherine Singleton, an attorney for Gresk and Singleton, said she came to Saint Mary’s simply to study other languages, especially Spanish.

“Not all programs are the same, and you don’t need to know why you’re going abroad,” Singleton said. “For me, I think it’s important to know what I was trying to accomplish, [which was] proficiency in foreign languages. I wanted to see how I would feel speaking that language and trying to blend into that country. I believe that cultural acclimation is a skill that you can learn.”

Singleton said now as an attorney she is able to speak Spanish on a regular basis with her clients.  She also currently works in a building that she helped design both interiorly and exteriorly based on inspiration from the beauty of France and the architecture of Italy.

The panel concluded after students were able to ask questions about the particulars of each alumna’s experiences and careers.

Freshman Emily Sullivan said she enjoyed the panel and learned many helpful tips.

“I’m planning to go abroad in the spring of 2015, so this panel reassured me that going abroad is not only good for the experience but also for my future after college,” Sullivan said.

Junior Emily Scanlon, who studied abroad in Rome in the fall of 2012, said the alumnae made her consider how she would use her experience in Italy to further her career goals.

“I’m always thinking about my time in Rome, but I never know how to put the consequences of my experience into a context that will help me in the workforce,” Scanlon said.  “The panel made me reflect on the long term impacts that studying overseas will have and already has on me, which is great, since I know it will always be one of my favorite memories in my life.”

Contact Kelly Konya at [email protected]