LSU SOE Students & Faculty Geaux Change Lives Abroad
October 17, 2023
BATON ROUGE, LA - This summer, three members of the School of Education family worked and adventured with LeadAbroad, a purpose-driven study abroad organization focused on leading transformative experiences that combine the best aspects of studying abroad, international service, and backpacking adventures into one epic summer experience.
Dr. Ashley Clayton served as an instructor on LeadAbroad’s Barcelona program. She taught INT 290: Culture, Values, and Global Citizenship and BUS 360: Leadership and Power in Business through Oglethorpe University. Clayton encouraged learning outside of the classroom as she took students to the Port of Barcelona to learn about the organization and operation of a major European port and toured the famous Sagrada Familia.
At LSU, Clayton teaches a graduate-level ELRC 7063: Leadership in Higher Education course and enjoyed teaching a leadership course at the undergraduate level this past summer. Clayton’s research focuses on college access, equity, and success. In her published article, she examines the relationship between need-based grant aid and study abroad participation. Clayton said, “My co-author, Dr. Melissa Whatley, and I found that need-based grant aid significantly increases a student’s probability of participating in education abroad.” Clayton’s research overlapped with her experience abroad this summer.
Carlin Dougherty, a graduate student in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program, was the Health & Safety Advisor on LeadAbroad’s Cape Town program. In this role, she was the first responder for all health and safety issues while abroad and was responsible for overseeing the execution of the emergency response plan. Dougherty reflected on how the knowledge she’s gained in LSU’s Counseling Program helped her support students while abroad. She said, “Responding to any physical or mental health crisis that arose while in Cape Town was my job. I was able to use counseling techniques and interventions I learned at LSU to support students struggling with anxiety, homesickness, and other mental health issues during their time abroad. It was an incredible learning experience that I am extremely grateful for!”
Dougherty shared that her favorite memories involve seeing students face their fears and accomplish something they thought they wouldn’t be able to do. In Cape Town, that meant skydiving, bungee jumping, shark cage diving, and more. Dougherty shared, “My favorite memory was bungee jumping off Bloukrans Bridge with the students! We were all dancing and hyping each other up on top of the bridge. It was inspiring to see students cheering each other on and facing their fears together.”
Mariah Duncan, a graduate student studying Higher Education Administration at LSU, was also able to connect her graduate studies to her job abroad. Duncan was a Teaching Assistant on LeadAboad’s Greece program. Duncan assisted in teaching leadership, civic engagement, and global citizenship classes during the month-long program that included service, academics, and adventures in Athens, Santorini, and Crete. She said, “I was able to work with over 80 students and help them every step of the way. Being able to build relationships with students is foundational for the work that I do. My experience in Greece has made me a more capable and qualified Higher Education professional.”
Duncan feels that studying abroad is a transformative experience. She shared, “I was able to see so many students push their boundaries and overcome obstacles. The powerful classroom content coupled with the cultural experiences that you have abroad combine for such a unique learning opportunity.”
Dr. Clayton also encourages students to study abroad if they have the opportunity.
She says, “Studying abroad is a unique opportunity to live and study in a different
country, and through this experience students can learn about another culture and
grow in their knowledge of the world. For Louisiana students, there are great opportunities
to use TOPS for study abroad.”