By Robbie Chulick, ‘13
All three students selected by St. Bonaventure to participate in the Irish American Scholars program had their applications approved by Northern Ireland colleges and universities to study abroad this year.
Alice Sayegh, director of International Studies, said SBU became a partner in the program in 2009, but this is the first time all three students selected by SBU were actually able to be placed in an exchange program at a university in Ireland.
“Sr. Margaret Carney entered into this agreement through the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities that facilitates American students traveling to Northern Ireland for a semester and Northern Ireland Students coming to the U.S. for a year,” she said.
Since the program began, four SBU students have participated in the exchange program in Northern Ireland and three students from Northern Ireland studied here at St. Bonaventure.
This year’s SBU students studying abroad in Northern Ireland include:
Samantha Berkhead, a junior journalism and mass communication major from Buffalo. She is currently studying at the University of Ulster at Coleraine.
Sarah Gaulin, a junior marketing major from Rochester. She is studying at the University of Ulster at Jordanstown.
Kevin Cooley, a junior sociology major from Athol Springs, N.Y. He will study at Queen’s University, Belfast, next semester.
Sayegh said this exchange program not only offers an experience of a lifetime, but it also is a reasonable cost to the students because the tuition they would pay is waived in Northern Ireland because of the agreement.
Students only need to pay for their room, meals, transportation, and any other miscellaneous expenses, or roughly about $7,000 a semester, she said.
Berkhead said she has already learned some life-changing lessons abroad this semester, even though she has only been overseas for just more than a month.
“Living in a different country entails much more than you would think,” she said. “I have always been an introverted person, but I can already tell that living here has forced me to open up to the public more.”
Berkhead said she is taking three classes this semester, but on the weekends she still has plenty of time to travel. She has already been to Belfast, Derry and Dublin, and she plans on going to Edinburgh, London and Paris within the next few weeks.
On the heels of this year’s success of the program, the International Studies office is about to kick off its 2013-2014 campaign. At 4 p.m. on Nov. 1, invited students can come learn more about the current program and pick up an application to begin the process.
Nicole Krug, a senior sociology major, participated in the exchange program last fall. She said the program was more than she ever could have imagined.
“I went over to Northern Ireland knowing no one and came away from this experience with people I will never forget,” she said. “This past summer, I went on a road trip all around the southwest United States with some friends I made while I was abroad.”
Each year, the International Studies office sends 30 students abroad, and faculty directed study abroad programs send nearly 100 students.
For more information on this exchange program or other study abroad options, contact Alice Sayegh at firstname.lastname@example.org.