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Students studying abroad gain courage, confidence, independence

October 12, 2015

They went to different corners of the world, but Stephens students who returned after studying abroad earlier this year share a common refrain: they’re more confident, independent and courageous women because of it.

“I’m confident about myself now, and confidence was not my strong point,” said senior Carter Grove, an integrated marketing student who took business classes in Barcelona.

Stephens offers a buffet of Study Abroad options through affiliated school, volunteer and internship program providers, as well as partnerships that allow students to directly enroll in schools abroad. Study Abroad Coordinator Lynda Baumgartner works closely with students to make sure they understand their options and helps them navigate the necessary paperwork. She also encourages them to take initiative and plan well in advance for their experiences.

Senior Tatiana Evans befriended an exchange student from South Korea at Stephens last year, attending church with her and learning the language and culture before embarking on her own study in Seoul.

The highlight of her experience was Seoul Fashion Week, where she got to watch designers, stylists, photographers and models work behind the scenes. Evans made lots of connections, which she hopes to use when applying for an internship at an English-speaking channel there. She said the internship made her realize she wants to pursue a fashion career abroad rather than in the states.

Senior Hillary Henry also studied fashion, opting for more traditional locations. She crafted a schedule that allowed her to study footwear at the Florence University of The Arts and couture at the Paris American Academy. Despite traveling solo, Henry said she quickly discovered that she’s adaptable to new situations and had no difficulties getting around.

Grove spent four months in Barcelona and admits it required her to step out of her comfort zone.

“I think this will help me in the future with my career because I will be able to try new things,” she said.

Senior Meaghan Dye also stepped out of her comfort zone when she joined students from the University of Missouri to take business classes in Italy this summer.

“It was one of the best experiences of my life,” she said, adding that she’s already signed up to return to Paris and London with the MU group over winter break.

Dye is from a small community and chose Stephens because of its size. Now, she said, she's no longer limited to thinking she can't thrive in larger cities.

“It changed my perspective and how I look at things,” Dye said. “I learned a lot about what I can do, and I can see myself living in a big city. I can definitely do it. My dreams, they can become reality, I just have to make them happen.”

Senior Livvy Runyon was part of a documentary film crew that traveled to Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, through Actuality Media. She was producer on a four-member crew that created a short documentary about the work of Xela AID, an organization that seeks to empower women. The film has been accepted into the Catalina Film Festival.

Runyon said Stephens prepared her not only with production and technical skills but also with an ethical understanding of when to put the camera away.

Runyon, who has also traveled to Haiti, said the experience reaffirmed her career choice.

“It reinforced my desire to tell stories through film about other people and cultures,” she said. “It really challenged me as a filmmaker and as a person.”

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