The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

Student trades cornfields for mountains

While still studying at Eastern Patrick Walsh went to school in the shadow of a mountain.

For the fall semester of his sophomore year, Walsh, now a senior accounting major, studied at the University of Montana, spending his spare time outdoors hiking and exploring the mountain that overlooked the campus.

Walsh is one of about 30 students at Eastern who have participated in the National Student Exchange.

The National Student Exchange is a collection of nearly 150 universities and colleges across the U.S. including the U.S. territories of Guam and Puerto Rico for the purpose of educational exchange.

Although the program is coordinated through the Honors College, it is open to all students.

One day his freshman year Walsh said he saw a flyer on a wall in his residence hall and knew he was going to do it.

“I spent the whole night looking at all the schools,” Walsh said.

Walsh followed up his experience in Montana with a semester at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas this past fall. Now he is working with the Honors College to promote the program.

“I just don’t think enough student know about this,” Walsh said.

Eastern first became involved with the National Student Exchange in the fall of 2007 under the previous dean of the Honors College, Bonnie Irwin.

Margaret Messer, the director of honors student affairs and the program coordinator for the National Student exchange, said many students, like Walsh, choose two completely different locations.

Messer said students use the experience as a way to broaden their perspectives, explore new cultures and look into graduate school options. Through the National Student Exchange students can either pay Eastern’s tuition or in-state tuition for where they are located, Messer said.

When looking at National Student Exchange colleges Messer encourages students to avoid going to universities in border states.

“I like to get them far enough away so there is a cultural experience,” Messer said

Currently Eastern is hosting one student through the National Student Exchange.

Brittany Dixon, a junior with an interdisciplinary major focusing on ethnic studies, came to Eastern for a year from Southern Oregon University.

She is using this year as a chance to observe Eastern ethnic and minority studies, such as African American Studies and Women’s Studies departments, which she plans on bringing back to Southern Oregon University as part of a capstone program.

So far, Dixon said she has enjoyed the experience and she has learned a lot that will prepare her for life after graduation.

“It’s a great opportunity to get some insight for when you enter the workforce,” Dixon said. “You have to constantly work with people you don’t know.”

Dixon recommends the program for others who want to explore.

“Especially if you’ve never been out of your state and you couldn’t afford to because of money, that’s a great way to do it,” Dixon said.

Walsh said he enjoyed how flexible the program was and how it gave him the opportunity to explore the northwest and to reinvent his self. His favorite memories are of the times he spent outdoors skiing in Montana, canoeing in the Nevada River and climbing a 12,000-foot mountain at the Great Basin National Park.

“There’s people out there like me where maybe Eastern wasn’t their first choice,” Walsh said. “But there’s always been somewhere they wanted to go to; you’re not just limited to Charleston.”

Emily Steele can be reached at 581-2818 or [email protected]

This article has been revised to reflect the following clarification Feb. 13:

In Thursday’s edition of The Daily Eastern News the story titled “Student trades cornfields for mountains” was missing information. Applications for the National Student Exchange Program are now available and are due Feb. 15. Anyone interested in participating in the National Student Exchange program should contact Margaret Messer at the Honors College.

Student trades cornfields for mountains

Student trades cornfields for mountains

Patrick Walsh, senior accounting major, visits Great Basin National Park in Baker, Nev. (Submitted)


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