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Saint Mary’s London summer program provides students with unique opportunities

| Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The LEB Summer Program at Saint Mary’s offers students an opportunity to take classes and participate in practicums in London for four weeks over the summer. Students must have at least a 2.5 GPA, but any major can participate.

The program was founded by the College’s Interim Provost, Jill Vihtelic, in 2015. Since then, Saint Mary’s has sent several students to London.

Junior business administration major Mia Washington traveled to London in the summer of 2018.

“I took a course on globalization and worked for a company which did work on wireless chargers,” Washington said. “I did market research and analysis. At the end, we were able to present our findings to the CEO, which was really cool.”

Washington lived in apartment-style housing and was responsible for her own meals, which she said taught her independence and helped her gain confidence.

“It was up to us to purchase our own food and learn to cook,” Washington said. “It helped teach me how to navigate a new country by myself and learn about the diverse culture, society and even the political climate in London.” 

Washington said her decision to go to London was due to family experiences.

“My dad had always wanted to take our family to London,” she said. “He’s an artist, and he always wanted to study the stained glass of London. I decided to go and to take advantage of the opportunity given.”

Jennifer Zachman, faculty coordinator of study abroad programs, said there are several classes students can take in London along with the practicum.

“All the classes have to do with London in some way or another,” she said. “There’s British Life and Culture, Globalization, Discovering London’s Architecture and Design, Digital Photography and Nutritional and Exercise Management.”

Although no students will be sent from Saint Mary’s this year, Zachman said, the program will do more promoting next year and try to have an earlier deadline.

“It’s a pretty small program, but students know immediately after if they’re accepted,” she said. “They have to apply through us with an essay and then through LEB, but if we accept them, it’s almost guaranteed that LEB will as well.”

Zachman said classes can count either as credit for the Sophia Program in Liberal Learning or as an elective.

“It’s a very unique and incredible opportunity,” she said. “Students can get practical experience in business while living in an amazing and multicultural city.”

Washington expanded on some additional opportunities for students that she took advantage of while abroad.

“The London School of Economics is right next to where students stay,” she said. “We were able to attend presentations by professors. One I really enjoyed was a professor who gave us the full rundown on Brexit — what it was, how people really felt about it and how the government was dealing with issues.”

Mana Derakhshani, director of the Center for Women’s Intercultural Leadership (CWIL), said the London study abroad program is a unique experience for students.

“London is such a cosmopolitan center of business culture, a combination of old history and new development due to migration and new technology,” Derakhshani said. “It’s a unique experience, especially because most of our study abroad programs are not in large, multicultural cities like London.”

Derakshani had one major piece of advice for students looking into the London program.

“Be flexible, be open, be ready to adapt and experience new things,” she said. “If you expect everything [to be] the way you think it will, don’t do this program.”

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