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Student Achievement Award

2013 to 2014

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Campus Profiles

Dale Tovar
Eastern Oregon University to the University of Utah - Spring 2014
Major: Music

As I was only sixteen years old when I began my exchange, the dorm experience was new and valuable to me as well as making both dorm friends and music friends. Having already taken all of the music coursework available to me at my home university, I went to a place where I could take full advantage of the vastly expanded curriculum, ensemble offerings, access to music theorists, and other excellent faculty and instrumentalists.

I auditioned into and played in the graduate jazz combo for the school year. As a 16 year-old, I was the youngest by eight years and was one of only two undergraduates in the combo. As part of the combo, I performed many times both on and off campus. The faculty advisor of the combo and I were hired to play jazz guitar at a wedding. I transcribed a virtuoso Michael Brecker jazz saxophone solo and played it on guitar for a jury. I also spent the year in the classical guitar ensemble and was first guitar in the jazz guitar ensemble for the year.

I took the most advanced scholarly music coursework available: 20th Century Techniques, Orchestration, Counterpoint and Analysis, Special Topics in Music Theory: "Formal Prosthesis: Anomalies and Narrative Structures in Beethoven's Sonata Form", and most importantly, Music Theory Research - the only undergraduate accepted for research. I received 4.0 in all of my coursework. A proposal based on the research "Octatonicism and Embedded Interval Cycles in Benjamin Britten's Nocturnal After John Dowland" was submitted to the West Coast Conference on Music Theory and Analysis (WCCMTA). The proposal was accepted; and I was one of only two undergraduates to present. At the conference I made several contacts including the president of the WCCMTA who is writing a recommendation for graduate school. I also presented "Tonal Problem Analysis in an Atonal Context: A Narrative Study of Berg's Opus 3 String Quartet First Movement" at the Phi Kappa Phi session of the Eastern Oregon Spring Symposium.

Caleb Ugworgi
Virginia State University to the University of South Carolina-Columbia - Academic Year 2013-2014
Major: Hospitality Management

It was an honor to have the opportunity to be selected as an exchange student to the University of South Carolina-Columbia. I really was not sure how I would make the slightest impact exchanging to a university with 30,000 students. During my one year at the University of South Carolina, I managed to join the Association of African American Students (AAAS). I became an active member by participating in numerous fundraising events, educational programs for the student body, and outreach programs to fellow communities.

Also, I was able to get involved with the University of South Carolina's Chapter of the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality (NSMH). Throughout the school year I've participated with the organization in numerous student body meetings, volunteer work, and fundraisers to raise money to help fund our trip to the National Conference in St. Louis, Missouri this past year. Through the organization I was able to connect with industry professionals which led me to a summer internship on Hilton Head Island with Marriott Vacation Clubs. My involvement this past year in South Carolina with the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality organization has really benefitted my professionalism, networking ability, and leadership skills.

The National Student Exchange has severely impacted my life. I never thought I could take advantage of such opportunities away from home. I expanded my horizon and definitely jumped out my comfort zone to experience true southern hospitality.

Wendel Wickland Student Achievement
Award Winners for the NSE
Exchange Year 2013-2014

Jennifer Gravrok
University of Wisconsin-Superior to the University of Maine at Farmington - Academic Year 2013-2014
Major: Biology

The National Student Exchange has impacted my life in ways that I could not have thought possible over just one year. My career aspirations shifted from veterinary medicine to research through the opportunities UMF offered me to conduct research of my own choosing for three different classes. My independent study on the boldness-aggression syndrome in crayfish enabled me to see what research is really about and gave me experience presenting my work at an international undergraduate conference.

I also conducted unique research in physiological psychology and genetics courses in which I got to present my research to the class and the campus at the spring symposium. I was also afforded the opportunity to study for a week at the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory performing DNA bar-coding and PCR amplification on plant and insect species collected from Acadia National Park. These opportunities allowed me to obtain a competitive summer internship at Michigan State University to research the negative incentive contrast effect in honey bees.

My experience with the National Student Exchange program was not only academic but worldly. I made lifelong friends from all around the world and had my eyes opened to many other cultures. I attended and helped with the monthly "discover the world" activities as well as attended weekly French club meetings. While in Maine, I took every opportunity to travel the East Coast. I saw a Broadway show in New York City, was in Boston over Thanksgiving, Montreal in the spring, and many places in Maine throughout all seasons.

I have a newfound desire to travel the rest of the United States and the world because of the wonderful people I met and the eye opening experiences travel offers.

Devon Smolak
University of Massachusetts at Amherst to Texas State University - Spring 2014
Major: Plant, Soil and Insect Science

Before the exchange, I hadn't realized that our very own country has a diversity of culture, education and environment. Since I had never been to Texas, I thought that the location of Texas State University would simply provide me with the opportunity to avoid one of those cold New England winters, but what I had not expected was the quality of research being offered, and the opportunity to participate in research that could affect the lives of persons who had no voice.

The research which I performed on vineyard farm worker safety in Texas not only provided me with the opportunity to form a thesis topic, write a proposal, implement a study, undertake detailed structured research, and create a qualitative measure designed to collect and assess data, but my research also provided meaningful data which, in part, contributed to the effort to provide a more safe environment for the Texas vineyard farm worker.

I began with a shallow reason to go on exchange but the results and what I gained academically from the experience were completely unexpected. As a result of my NSE participation, I have brought different ideas and viewpoints to Texas State, and in exchange, returned to Massachusetts with not only a new perspective but also with new confidence in my ability to conduct detailed research which may someday make a difference in someone's quality of life.

I will never forget the incredible opportunity which the NSE program enabled me to experience, and I highly recommend the National Student Exchange to anyone who wants to open their eyes to a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Honorable Mention

Lauren Crosby
University of Maine at Farmington to the University of Memphis - Fall 2013
Major: Secondary Education and English

Lauren Crosby was an aspiring singer/songwriter who exchanged to the University of Memphis and took advantage of all that the Memphis scene offered to further music talent and goals. In her words, she describes what the opportunity meant to her.

The University of Memphis enabled me to study Blues and Jazz vocals under some of the local industries top teachers. I was able to learn different techniques and music from the Southern culture. I am forever grateful for this experience, and it has made me a better person, adventurer, and musician!

While in Memphis I was able to play music all over the South! I started out playing my guitar and singing outside of my dorm, and I met quite a few people that way. I quickly gained confidence and started playing at local coffee shops and open mics in Cooper Young. I ventured to downtown Memphis and became obsessed with the bluesy sounds of Beale Street. I found myself playing in bars and restaurants throughout downtown. An accomplished Grateful Dead/Allman Brothers cover band called Stone Stew Jubilee heard me sing and asked me to start playing with them. Through Stone Stew Jubilee, I was able to travel all through Northern Mississippi and surrounding Memphis areas playing shows. A rep from Columbia Records heard me play, and invited me to perform at the Hard Rock Café on Beale St! That was the highlight of my time studying away!

The National Student Exchange has given me the opportunity to open my arms to our beautiful country, while dancing and singing through different experiences and cultures!

John DiGeronimo
Keene State College to the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs - Academic Year 2013-2014
Major: Economics

When I committed to spending a year in Colorado Springs as an NSE student at UCCS, I had little idea that would become the first step of experiencing the best year of my life filled with my greatest accomplishments. While attending UCCS, I was able to participate in some great courses and learn a lot while also meeting other students and participating in events put together by fellow NSE students. We formed a tight-knit community where we all explored and experienced Colorado together while branching out to native students to learn about the area. It was a blast meeting so many people in an entirely new place but the campus was just the start for me; what really drew my attention was the community.

As a drummer, I quickly searched and soon after joined a local rock band and was able to play many local venues between Colorado Springs and Denver where I became friends with so many other great musicians. These shows gave me exposure and the opportunity to attend the NAMM Show in Anaheim which is an annual trade show for the music industry that hosts thousands of notable people in music and other vendors. I was also given the opportunity to join a local church worship team and perform weekly for the more than 1400 attendees, several of whom became close friends. Above all what I love most about Colorado is the great people that I was able to meet and share these amazing experiences with. If it weren't for the National Student Exchange, I would have never met any of my Colorado friends or shared any of the great times I had with them.

Gerardo Valencia
University of Arizona to Iowa State University - Spring 2014
Major: Family Studies and Human Development

Iowa State University and the NSE program itself surprised me and changed some of my perceptions. Academically it was challenging, I was nonetheless able to keep my grades up and explore my major more in depth with faculty and colleagues. It connected me with a different group of professionals that could help me in the future and provided reassurance of what I wanted to be in the future. It motivated me to do greater things, dream bigger dreams and overall expand my networks. My involvement was my accomplishment and it had a lasting impact and personal significance not only in my life, but also in the Greek community, my fraternity brothers, and other students at Iowa State University.

Within my first week at Iowa State University I became involved with my fraternity, Sigma Lambda Beta, by attending a Greek Leadership retreat where I had the opportunity to meet students, which led to friendships. During the retreat I was able to collaborate in planning ideas for the semester that would benefit students as well as the Ames community. This retreat paved the way for me to become treasurer for the Multicultural Greek Council bringing my "spark of energy" into my position. I challenged the council, Greek Affairs, and students to do more and create a lasting impact for the future of Greek life. One of these lasting impacts was organizing a charity-bowling event for women who are victims of abuse, neglect and suffer from depression. Additionally, I also took a very active part in invigorating the chapter of Sigma Lambda Beta at Iowa State University by becoming their finance director, sergeant of arms, vice-president, and assistant membership educator. I inspired these future men to do more for their community and also interact/collaborate with other chapters in the nation.

Participating in NSE helped me rediscover what energizes me, while also igniting a passion for graduate school. NSE allowed me to discover what really motivates me - and I wouldn't have found that if I stayed home.

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