From Experiential Learning to Career Preparation
Hannah Fisher’20 transferred to Beloit College after completing all of the coursework needed to earn an associates degree from the College of DuPage. While at DuPage, served as an orientation leader for incoming students. She’d play a similar role in her studies at Beloit.
Her experiences orienting students to college would influence her decision to pursue a career in student affairs with a focus on academic advising. And her study abroad experiences, both in high school and at Beloit College, would lead her to add specializations in international education and study abroad.
“Helping students register for classes and get oriented to Beloit College in summer 2020 reinforced my interest in student affairs and academic affairs. Having studied abroad during high school, when I decided to transfer to a four-year college, Beloit stood out. Unlike many colleges, it permitted students to not only study abroad, but to do so for an entire semester.”
If Hannah benefited from work experiences as well as study abroad, these weren’t activities separate from her studies but rather integral to them.
“I came to Beloit College interested in anthropology, which became my major. But after taking a course on sociocultural perspectives on education with David Segura, I was hooked on education and youth studies as well. A course with Jingjing Lou on comparative and international education drove my interest even further, such that I decided to minor in education and youth studies.”
Goldsmiths University of London she continued to study her major and minor disciplines. But she also took advantage of being in London to explore what it meant to work in study abroad there. “I was beginning to realize that study abroad could be a profession, so I visited the Goldsmiths’ study abroad office to talk to the staff about their work. That led to an invitation to talk at a conference of US study abroad advisors who work with students studying in the UK. “I shared my experiences and perspectives as a study abroad student in London. From then on, I knew that I wanted my career to have an international education dimension.” When Hannah studied abroad at
As Hannah embarked on her senior year at Beloit, she looked for opportunities to very intentionally integrate experiential learning with her studies. To fulfill a EDYS field studies requirement, she volunteered in the Office of International Education, where among other projects, she created orientation materials that continue to be used to prepare students to study abroad. At the same time, to better understand the impact her recent study abroad had had for her educationally as well as personally, she enrolled in a reflection course designed for returned study abroad students.
“Volunteering in the office and taking the course at the same time allowed me to view study abroad from multiple perspectives.”
Now a graduate student in the masters of education program in Higher Education and Student Affairs at Northern Illinois University (NIU), Hannah is building on her undergraduate academic and experiential learning experiences as she takes courses and works as a graduate assistant (GA).
“I started by observing the advising process as a GA in NIU’s School of Art and Design, but have begun to advise students. I’m loving the work! My supervisor and I are responsible for 350 advisees. That’s very different from advising at a small college! My coursework and graduate assistantship are allowing me to refine advising skills I began to develop while helping register incoming students for classes at Beloit the summer following my senior year. I’m excited about getting experience with micro-counseling skills.”
In spring 2022, Hannah will continue to advise students with the support of her advisor, after which she’ll do a summer internship. She hopes to find one with a focus on international education.
“I love the fact that my graduate program is allowing me to combine experiential education with theoretical classes. That is what made my education at Beloit so valuable. I recommend that all students, and particularly transfer students, get involved in campus activities beyond the classroom. Research, extracurricular activities, volunteering and work can be so impactful, not only because they help you put theoretical knowledge into practice, but because they help you belong. It can be really easy, especially for transfer students, to just focus on completing requirements and getting a degree. But there is so much more to college. My recommendation is to get as much out of college as you can, without burning out.”