More students look to study abroad

The weary job market sparked an increase in the number of Florida A&M University students who are studying abroad this year.      

This summer, 27 students from FAMU’s Office of International Education and Development and 11 students from the College of Law Office of International Development will leave for various countries.

Last year, there were 33 students who traveled.            

Students will travel to the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, China, Brazil, South Africa, Ghana, Italy, United Kingdom, Spain and France.

College of Law Administrator Neil Fishman said the increased numbers is directly related to the international development office, established July 2008.

“The office has exposed the student body to more international study abroad opportunities,” Fishman said.

Joseph Jones, interim vice president of the International Education and Development Office, said the increased interest for study abroad programs and internships are a result of students who are worried about the post-graduation job market.

“Now, more than ever, [students] actually need to have this international experience in order to be competitive and marketable,” Jones said. “They need language and cultural competence.”

Jones added that students in other countries such as China and India are learning several languages from the time they are in elementary school and on through higher education.

Jones also urged students to realize “the days of monolinguals are over” and learning a second language by developing their skills overseas is a necessity.

“I studied abroad to gain insight on the economical, political, and social culture of a Latin American country and to develop my language skills,” said Anthony Murphy, 22, a senior biochemistry and Spanish student from Wisconsin. Murphy studied abroad in the summer of 2008.

Murphy gained experience in a medical environment as a volunteer at a pediatric hospital in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Murphy is just one of many students who have taken advantage of studying abroad to be more competitive.                      

Fishman said the program conducts one-on-one assessments to determine what country students will visit.

“The Office of the Associate Dean for International Programs meets with every student that is interested in studying abroad to assess their goals and help them select a program,” Fishman said. “We established two international study abroad courses to provide students with internal academic credit for participating in study abroad programs.”

Jones said another reason for the increase in student participants is due to scholarships and grants for international programs.

“You can use your Pell Grant, federal financial aid, loans, scholarships and grants to study abroad,” Jones said. “There is also the Gillman Scholarship, which provides financial aid to disadvantaged students.”

Jones said money is available for students to use if they are willing to seek it out.

Fisher said. “It is a great way to globalize your education, gain a competency in a foreign culture and gain a new perspective on American culture.”

For more information on study abroad programs and internships, call the Office of International Education and Development at (850) 599-3562.