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    Posted March 17, 2014 by
    District of Columbia
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Why study abroad? Ask Michelle Obama

    Ashley Murdock: Down in Dubln

    If I could describe my study abroad experience in one word it would be “life-changing”; I grew academically, professionally and personally. Studying abroad helped me strengthen my skills, shape my career goals and enhance my cultural understanding of the world.
    I took five classes over the fall semester at the Quinn School of Business. All of these classes counted towards fulfilling both my general and business requirements. My favorite class was Marketing Research because it strengthened my career goals. Before studying abroad I knew I wanted a career in Marketing. After taking Marketing Research I discovered that I really enjoyed interacting with consumers, conducting research studies, focus groups, etc. That next summer I interned in the Medialab at Time Warner Inc. in New York City. I was able to apply what I learned in my Marketing Research class to assist with research studies and develop strategic analyses. I assisted the Medialab team with day-to-day operations, including set-up and breakdown for research studies and events, greeting guest and consumer respondents and leveraging research to help pinpoint strategic approaches to strengthen creative ideas. My experience abroad has encouraged me to look into internships and full-time positions in Europe. I have also considered obtaining my Graduate degree abroad. Studying abroad in Ireland also helped me strengthen my communication, organization, leadership and teamwork skills. I worked on team projects in all of my classes and was responsible for delegating tasks, outlining objectives and making sure everyone was doing their part.
    Studying abroad in Dublin, Ireland was my first time outside of the United States. I had a wonderful time exploring another country and immersing myself in a different culture. Student organizations such as the International Student Society and Erasmus Dublin hosted many cultural excursions to places such as Belfast, Cork, Wicklow and Derry. I visited sites such as Titanic Belfast, Inis Mor, and the Giant Causeaway. I was also able to travel to Spain, Italy, France and the UK.
    I am a U.S. Department of State sponsored Gilman Scholarship recipient. I was responsible for doing a service project upon my return from Dublin, Ireland. Where in the world? was my service project that documented, presented and promoted the Gilman Scholarship and international education to students from ethnically diverse backgrounds attending Georgetown University. The project consisted of a Down in Dublin blog and a Food with Friends Across the Globe event. Down in Dublin consists of 14 blog posts that highlight my cultural experiences and provide tips for navigating thru Europe. I got a total of 325 views on my blog posts (http://ashleymurdockdownindublin.blogspot.com/). The Overseas Advisor for the study abroad program in Ireland even sent the blog out to the students who are planning to study abroad in the fall. The target audience of this project was students of diverse ethnic backgrounds who held a desire to study abroad, but did not have the financial means. One of the main reasons that minority students do not study abroad is because of a lack of finances and awareness. As a marketing major I have learned that it is critical to develop strategic partnerships to help facilitate any campaign that requires reaching large numbers of students. These targeted students were reached by partnerships with various Georgetown organizations including the Division of Overseas Studies, Center for Multicultural Equity and Access and Student of Color Alliance (SOCA).
    I partnered with the overseas studies student board to host Food and Friends Across the Globe. Promotional flyers, banners and social media were used to promote the event. The event was held in the Village C West Alumni Lounge on campus. Students entered the lounge and were asked to sign in – they provided their contact information and study abroad interest. They were then lead to a table that had brochures and handouts to provide them information on traveling and sightseeing abroad. Additional tables were set up around the room to represent the regions of Latin America, Continental Europe, the British Isles, Africa/Middle East and Asia. At each table decorations and food were provided to represent the various cultures within each region. For example, at the British Isles table there were scones and at the Asia table there were fried dumplings. After the students had a chance to eat and mingle the panel began. There was at least one speaker from each region and all of the schools within Georgetown University were represented. The moderator asked the panelists 13 questions about their experiences while abroad. I participated in the panel and was asked questions such as “What did you find most challenging when you went abroad?” and “Did you travel?” Next, I talked about the Gilman International Scholarship, eligibility requirements, deadlines and offerings. After that students had the opportunity to network with the students that studied abroad and ask me any additional questions about the Gilman Scholarship. Students also received and completed an evaluation form where they rated the event in terms of value of information and quality as well as their level of interest in study abroad and the Gilman Scholarship. My goal was to educate students and create awareness and excitement about the wonderful opportunities of studying abroad. I wanted students to know that the Gilman International Scholarship can help them to achieve their goals of receiving the best education possible. I believe that I achieved my goal because I educated the 35 students that came to the event about the Gilman Scholarship.
    I enjoyed sharing my experiences with others. Besides being a panelist at my event, I was fortunate enough to share my experience by doing a Gilman Interview that was posted on the website (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=9DlExPPE3pA). I also got an opportunity to talk to Melissa Mabry, an African American freshman at Georgetown University who was interested in studying abroad in Dublin, Ireland. I met with her and talked to her about my academic, cultural and personal experiences. My goals before going to Ireland were to expose, educate and inspire students to begin their search for a study abroad program, ultimately increasing the number of ethnically diverse students participating in study abroad programs and receiving Gilman Scholarships. Melissa is currently studying abroad in Dublin, Ireland. I am so excited that I was able to achieve my goal and make a difference in someone’s life.
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