OSWEGO — Offering a world of opportunities for SUNY Oswego students has resulted in the college earning high national rankings in the most recent Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange.
Ranking 12th among master’s universities shows “that we at SUNY Oswego are displaying consistent excellence, performing at the highest national level for nearly two decades now,” said Joshua McKeown, the college’s associate provost for international education and programs. “It is gratifying to achieve this level of national ranking again.”
The annual report from the Institute of International Education and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs is a comprehensive information resource on international students and scholars studying or teaching at higher education institutions in the United States, and U.S. students studying abroad for academic credit at their home colleges or universities.
“I believe it’s a campus-wide ethos that supports international education in our students’ lives,” McKeown said. It shows a campus culture where, for example, faculty will take an idea and turn it into a larger international learning experience, offices like Financial Aid and Student Accounts “going the extra mile to show students that it’s feasible financially,” support like modern languages and literatures’ pioneering GETGO student grant program, and the global studies program embedding study abroad programming into the curriculum, he added.
McKeown said he and an “incredibly talented and diverse staff in the Office of International Education and Programs” have been purposeful in their approach to making more opportunities available to a larger population of campus.
“One of the things that I’ve tried deliberately to do in recent years is encourage new and, in some cases, non-traditional disciplines and individual faculty to develop new international programs,” McKeown said, with examples in biological sciences, criminal justice, electrical and computer engineering, health promotion and wellness, human development, music and more.
“And two of those were nominated for and won SUNY Innovative Study Abroad Program awards, another achievement for us,” McKeown said. “Bottom line is that Oswego faculty and staff program administrators have risen to the challenge to improve and grow programs in any discipline and region of the world we can.”
Beyond the rankings, McKeown, his staff and all the partners appreciate the life-changing experiences that education abroad makes available to students.
“I definitely recommend all students to take a study abroad trip because I believe it will help you find out things about yourself that you would have never known being stuck in your usual environment,” said Diandre Coote-Anderson, senior finance major who studied abroad in Shanghai, China.
“I also think it helps to improve being culturally diverse so you can be more relatable when connecting with people in the future,” Coote-Anderson added. “You can also be more understanding of the things people have grown up doing that are different from you. Overall it helps to understand how people are the way they are and how they got to where they are.”
The sense of community and connectedness impressed him. “The Chinese students would spend time studying in the lounge throughout the day while also taking healthy breaks to keep themselves focused,” Coote-Anderson recalled. “They, of course, studied in groups to make studying easier and to socialize at the same time. … I realized that being social is a much better lifestyle to live. It’s much more exciting and makes you feel happy and healthy.”
Chanel Meyer, a senior with a double major in Spanish adolescence education and in Spanish has studied abroad in both Madrid, Spain, and in Guayaquil, Ecuador. She said the experience helped her realize that learning a language is learning a culture, provided unlimited growth opportunities and has helped her redefine herself.
“Studying abroad allowed me to inherit values that are critical to the person that I am today,” Meyer said. “Concepts that are now a strict part about who I am and what I stand for that were not existent prior include being an advocate for both learning languages and cultures, eliminating stereotypes that negatively contribute to one’s thinking about culture as a whole, encouraging others to go abroad, educating and preparing others to become a global citizen in a multilingual world, all while surrounding myself with others who share similar passions and interests as me.”
One of the benefits of studying abroad is learning and growing every day, she said. “There are various successes that are built off of one another, that in the moment, it doesn’t seem like much growth is happening. But when it is compared to where you first started to where you end up, you realize that everything is connected.”
Junior business administration major Jerimiah Butler has already studied abroad in Santiago, Chile, and has future plans to do so in Barcelona, Spain to study Spanish and the healthcare industry.
“Studying abroad has opened my eyes to what the world has to offer,” Butler said. “When I landed in Chile, I felt like I was in a different world. That world was filled with many opportunities. My professor Milton Loayza planned an incredible experience that immersed us in the roots of the Chilean culture.”
This included an unforgettable opportunity to visit the home of a Chilean family for dinner and discussions on family and culture. “This experience shaped my ideas and thoughts of the studying abroad experience,” he said. “I believe studying abroad is the single most important element of a college education.”
For more information on studying abroad and as an international student at SUNY Oswego, visit oswego.edu/international.
For more information on the Open Doors report, as well as more data, infographics and resources, visit iie.org/opendoors.