CORVALLIS - The college experience, like it has been for decades, still means studying at the library, football games, struggling with calculus and trying to get along with your roommate.
But in the '90s, it can also be hiking in knee-deep mud in the coastal rainforest of Ecuador, treating children for tuberculosis in a South African squatter's camp, or working all summer in the rolling, green, sheep-covered hills of Wales.
These experiences and others were shared by students in the College of Science at Oregon State University who participated in Global Graduates - The Oregon International Internship Program. It's an increasingly popular way for undergraduate and master' s-level students with a sense of adventure to develop language skills, international work experience, leadership abilities and academic expertise in the real world.
"In today's global economy many employers are looking for students with a wider variety of skills, including those gained in an overseas setting," said Laura Hampton, coordinator of the program at OSU. "International internships are a unique way to ear n academic credit and develop practical skills."
The internships can take several forms, Hampton said. Sometimes they involve working with an Oregon business that has an overseas branch. Sometimes the connections are with foreign universities or non-profit agencies, and sometimes governmental sponsor ships are involved.
A common thread, participants say, is challenging new life experiences.
Katrina McPherson of Klamath Falls graduated from OSU last June with a degree in biochemistry and biophysics and the university's innovative new international degree. Before entering medical school this fall at Johns Hopkins University, she wanted to d o an internship which would allow her both to improve her Spanish and study medicinal plants. The Fundacion Jatun Sacha's biological reserve in Bilsa, Ecuador, filled those goals, where she learned about the conservation functions of the reserve and the h ealth care system of Ecuador.
"I saw first-hand some of the problems that developing countries are facing, mainly that health care is often inadequate or completely non-existent," McPherson said. As a result of her experience, she is considering a medical career in public health, a nd hopes to return to the area to work with a group of indigenous people whose medicinal plants have not been studied.
Lisa Macy, a senior in general science from McMinnville, also hopes to pursue a medical science career, and a recent six-month internship brought her up close and personal to the people of South Africa.
"Watching the way the medical profession can help people all over the world, I realized why I want to be a doctor," Macy said. "Bedford hospital was like nothing I have ever seen before. Unsanitary conditions, limited staff, iron-barred beds lined sid e by side. No get-well cards, flowers or visitors. Xhosa patients with tuberculosis, polio, spina bifida, gun shots, stabs, stick wounds, osteomyelitis were treated. They were the most amazing people I have ever met."
Working with the physical therapy department, Macy aided in the treatment of paraplegic patients in the morning and children in the afternoon. She also wrote grants requesting hospital funding, compiled patient trauma statistics, and by the end of her internship learned enough Xhosa to converse with many of the patients.
Heidie Beard, a senior in environmental science from Milwaukie, worked in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Wales, Bangor, researching the biodiversity of organisms associated with the common edible mussel, Mytilis edulis. Her prof essors were "extremely helpful and willing to give the time and attention needed to discuss concerns about the project", Beard said.
"I gained a sense of achievement, better communication skills, became more culturally aware and made career contacts as well as many new personal friends who come from all over the world," she said.
According to Hampton, participation in the Global Graduates program can be developed through any university in the Oregon State System of Higher Education. Scholarships are available to assist with the costs of the internship experience, positions are filled on a competitive basis, and the program offers a wide variety of opportunities.
This program can also be combined with participation in OSU's international degree program for undergraduates, which has similar goals and has become a national model for developing the global awareness and competency of students.
Other recent internships in this program by Oregon residents include:
BEAVERTON: Paula Christensen, major in public health, promotion and education, internship in Australia; Mario Eiland, internship in Latin America
BEND: Bradley Edmunds, major in Spanish, internship in Honduras; Jennifer Peterson, major in human development and family science, internship in Mexico
BORING: Jacob Polk, major in psychology, internship in Mexico
CLACKAMAS: Steve Yeung, major in civil engineering, International Degree, internship in China
CORNELIUS: Susan Pranger, major in business administration, internship in Germany
CORVALLIS: Mike Chen, major in accounting, internship in Taiwan; Nick Hobgood, major in marine resource management, internship in Senegal; Jennifer Hogansen, major in psychology, internship in United Kingdom; Timothy McVey, major in business, management i nformation systems, internship in Germany; Mary McCormick, major in marine resource management, internship in Mexico; Kristine McElwee, major in marine resource management, internship in Senegal; Jennifer Nutton, major in political science, internship in United Kingdom; Frances Pendergrass, major in public health, internship in South Africa; Jennifer Segerholt, major in health promotion and education, internship in Sweden; Typhanny Tucker, major in liberal studies, internship in Costa Rica; Gretchen Wade, major in biology, internship in Mexico; Samnang Yun, major in health promotion and education, internship in Cambodia
EUGENE: Kimberly Kauffman, major in English, internship in Mexico
GRESHAM: Bill Martin, major in history of science, internship in United Kingdom; Mark Pinilla, major in international relations, internship in Ecuador
HILLSBORO: Rashawn Knapp, major in health care administration, internship in Mexico; Jeff Malensky, major in international business, internship in Mexico
KENO: Pamela Goodrich, major in psychology, internship in Mexico
KLAMATH FALLS: Katrina McPherson, major in biochemistry and biophysics, internship in Ecuador
LAKE OSWEGO: Luis Rodriguez-Garcia, major in Spanish and anthropology, internship in Ecuador
MADRAS: Jennifer Samsel, major in computer science, internship in Japan
MCMINNVILLE: Lisa Macy, major in general science, internship in South Africa
MILWAUKIE: Heidie Beard, major in environmental science and aquatic biology, internship in United Kingdom
NEWBERG: Andrea Dietz, major in nutrition and food management, internship in Honduras
PHILOMATH: Sharmin Smith, International Degree in business administration, internship in Mexico
PORTLAND: Eva Celnik, major in health promotion and education, internship in Switzerland; Emily Gates, major in Spanish, internship in Ecuador; Emily Holtman, major in business administration, management, internship in Ireland; Heather Jenkins, major in human development and family science, internship in Finland; Benjamin Kaiel, major in graphic design, internship in Italy; David Mecklem, major in food science and technology, internship in Germany; Susan Walsh, major in public health, internship in Aust ralia
SALEM: Shane Dickson, major in management information systems, internship in Ireland; Nancy Taylor, major in microbiology and food science, internship in Germany
SPRINGFIELD: Shelley Trenary, major in human development and family studies, internship in Mexico
SUBLIMITY: Daniel Gorelik, major in international business administration, International Degree, internship in Russia
SUNRIVER: Joe Bergeron, major in political science, international studies, internship in Costa Rica
SWEET HOME: Levi Abrams, major in political science, internship in Japan
WILSONVILLE: Juli Ellingson, major in animal science, internship in Tonga
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Laura Hampton, 541-737-6470