Visiting Student, 1992
Assistant Dean for Student Life, Eastman School of Music
1. How has your Stirling degree helped you in job-seeking and career progression?
I was an international student on an exchange programme from the United States. The academic, social, and personal experience I was fortunate to have changed my life and helped set me apart from others. I learned so much about myself, my interests, and career path. It has been twenty years since I was a student at Stirling, but not a single day goes by where its impact is not felt in my life. My time there fundamentally changed how I view the world and has given me the ability to view the world, and its issues, from several perspectives. The experience has helped me understand my own cultural biases and values. Upon my return to the United States, I actively sought out a more diverse social network. I also began to articulate my chosen career paths, first as an English as a Second Language Teacher, and now as an educator and administrator at a University. While studying for my Master of Science in Education ESL, I worked in a Study Abroad office at the university and drew upon my experiences and insight daily. Now as a university administrator, I encourage my students to study abroad and experience all the world has to offer.
2. How did your experience at Stirling differ from that of friends and colleagues who studied elsewhere?
Not many of my friends chose to study abroad. The ones that did chose to do so for one semester, whereas I wanted to go for a full academic year. Those who went for one semester were concerned about what they would be missing back home. I went for a year, because I wanted to make sure I was not missing anything abroad. One of the things that surprised me most upon returning from Stirling was trying to reconcile how much I had changed while my friends did not.
3. What made you choose Stirling?
I chose Stirling because I have always been in love with Scotland – the culture, the history, the landscape. Stirling offered the coursework I needed academically and was centrally located in the heart of Scotland. Stirling’s reputation for academics was always excellent and that was important to me. After reading the university prospectus and seeing how beautiful Stirling was, I knew that was where I wanted to be.
4. How did you enhance your CV to break into your chosen sector?
I actively pursued a Graduate Assistantship in Higher Education (in Student Life) and I also pursued a second Master’s in Science in Higher Education Administration. Additionally, I am actively involved in my professional organisation, the Association of College Unions International, as a regional volunteer on our regional leadership team, regional conference chairperson, and international conference leadership team.
5. Is your career what you expected or has anything changed?
I began my career as a Second Language teacher, teaching kindergarten through 12th grade. While I enjoyed teaching I did not love it. While getting my Master’s degree, I worked in the University’s study abroad office. It was during that time that I knew I wanted to work with college students either in international education or student life. In fact, my Master’s thesis is about the reverse culture shock and reacculturation process of college students returning home after studying abroad. I have worked in student life since 2001 and truly enjoy making a difference in the lives of University students.
6. What other activities would you recommend to build up my skill set?
Study abroad and find your passion. Develop foreign language skills, become engaged in your community, be well-read and well-rounded, and become an intern in an area in which you are interested.
7. What advice can you give me as a student now?
Be open to the fact that who you are now is not who you may be in a few years. Your values, ideas, and passions will evolve. Become involved on campus and help create community as a student leader – join a club, start a new club, mentor younger students, make a difference on campus! Don’t let opportunities pass you by. Participate in campus events and programmes because the skills you learn as a student leader will be valuable to you as an emerging professional.
Email Melissia Schmidt if you would like to ask a question.