Written by Chalyn White, Study Abroad I-CORPS Intern

We’ve just wrapped up the month of March, also known as Women’s History Month, which focuses on the importance of women around the world. The Office of Study Abroad wants to take the opportunity to spotlight some of our women faculty members who are leading study abroad programs this year. Dr. Ross is a Spanish professor who focuses on post-franco literature and film and will be leading the SU Buenos Aires program. One of the faculty leaders for the SU European Cultural Explorations program, Dr. Renegar, is a Communication Studies professor who focuses on rhetorical theory. Lastly, Dr. Burks is a Biology professor who focuses on freshwater ecology and chocolate and will be going to London in the fall. These women not only help Southwestern students here on campus but also abroad in our specialized faculty-led programs. 

These professors enjoy going abroad because of the students they travel with; one could say that the students make the experience. Dr. Burks and Dr. Renegar originally became faculty leaders because they learned later in life how impactful studying abroad is. Their biggest regret from their time in undergrad was not studying abroad with their college, which is why they decided to become faculty leaders to promote studying abroad here at SU. Both Dr. Burks and Dr. Renegar want students to get the chance to study abroad while they have the time and resources to do so. 

Dr. Renegar describes studying abroad as “the most transformative educational experience a student can have.” With that being said, a lot of students miss out on this high-impact experience due to various concerns including financial, health, and security reasons. However, Dr. Ross argues that the growth and experience you gain from going abroad is worth facing all of those fears. Dr. Burks and Dr. Renegar believe that these fears can be minimized if you take the time to identify what exactly you are afraid of and then search for a solution. Dr. Renegar specifically mentions that if your worry is financial support, applying and seeing what financial aid you can receive is the best way to overcome this hurdle. It never hurts to apply for funding, and you might be selected to receive awards. 

These three faculty leaders have a lot of great insight when it comes to studying abroad and are willing to help students along the way. Don’t let your fears hold you back from studying abroad. In the words of Dr. Ross: “Sí se puede” or “You can do it.” If you have any questions or concerns regarding studying abroad, don’t be afraid to reach out to the Office of Study Abroad at studyabroad@southwestern.edu as well as any faculty leaders leading a program.