Today@Sam Article

NSE Invites Students To Study Away

April 7, 2021
SHSU Media Contact: Hannah Haney


Let curiosity be your compass with the National Student Exchange at Sam Houston State University.

According to the NSE, you may be a good candidate for their exchange program if you believe it is time to expand your curriculum, branch out, explore new interests, study with new faculty, hear different ideas, make new friends, or create new opportunities.

The NSE is an education non-profit that sponsors and facilitates collegiate “study away” exchanges among colleges and universities throughout the United States, Canada, Guam, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. Students can choose from diverse university settings from islands to big cities, including Hispanic serving and historically Black colleges and universities, with a wide array of courses, programs, field experiences and internships. Member institutions range in size from large flagship research universities to small liberal arts colleges.

While the partnership with SHSU and the NSE was in the works long before the pandemic, it has proven to be an invaluable resource for students because of its flexible learning options while international travel is suspended. It has also been a great alternative to studying abroad, for those students who may not have the ability or desire to study abroad because of their citizenship designation, a disability, or financial restrictions, etc.

“NSE is a great opportunity to see another part of the U.S. and fully immerge in the diverse and nuanced experiences each state and region has to offer. Student can experience a different culture, try new foods, enjoy another landscape or climate, and more - all without the current uncertainty of international travel,” Malin Hilmersson, study abroad coordinator for the Office of International Programs said.

The program has already piqued the interest of three SHSU students, with one beginning her journey this summer, and the rest completing year-long travel away placements, Fall ’21.  In addition, three students from other participating universities will join the Bearkat family this fall.

Interested? Direct Placement for Summer 2021, Fall 2021 and/or Spring 2022 will close:
  • Summer: April 15
  • Fall: July 15
  • Spring: November 15

Overall, this partnership ensures that students will be able to find support and resources through every aspect of their SHSU experience, regardless of whether they are physically on campus.

“Students don’t have to go abroad to have transformative experiences with significant personal, professional and academic benefits,” Hilmersson said. “NSE offers all of that just a little closer to home.”

Today@Sam spoke with a few members of the first class on their motivations to join the NSE.

ZP.jpg1Zachary Parkhurst 

Hometown: Orange, Texas

Major/Minor: Biology/Business

Grade Classification: Junior

Expected Graduation Year: 2023

Study Away: University of the Virgin Islands, St. Thomas, Fall ’21 - Spring ’22


T@S: Why did you decide to join the National Student Exchange?

ZP: I have always had the dream to live on an island for an extended period. I never had the option to apply elsewhere due to out-of-state tuition fees. I saw NSE and saw it as a perfect opportunity to “get my toes wet”, literally and metaphorically.

T@S: Emotions about studying with the University of the Virgin Islands, St. Thomas?

ZP: Although there is a lot of excitement that is coming with this, there is also a lot of nervousness. I am not worried about having a bad experience, but it is nerve-wracking knowing I will be a few hours plane flight away from my friends and family. 

T@S: Will you be taking Biology courses or other electives?

ZP: I plan on doing both. I see this as the perfect opportunity to not only try to finish my major/minor courses, but also to expand my knowledge and experience in any way possible. That is why I will be taking in a few Caribbean art and dancing classes along the way.

T@S: How will you prepare for this new learning experience? 

ZP: I have been talking to people who attended UVI in the past to help prepare me on what to expect, and the schooling at SHSU and UVI seem very similar. Another thing that NSE helps us with is preparing, they help us get in contact with everyone attending the same school as you through NSE so that you can make friends before you arrive.

T@S: What are you looking forward to the most?

ZP: The thing I am most looking forward to is expanding my hobbies into my college process. I am a certified rescue scuba diver, and plan on taking several academic scuba diving classes. It is exciting to know that I will be doing something I love, while enhancing my collegiate level.

T@S: What are your future goals?

ZP: My future goals are to go to medical school and work in brain cancer research in the future.

KM-UMNKirsten Massaviol

Hometown: Coppell, Texas

Major/Minor: Criminal Justice, Sociology

Grade Classification: Senior

Expected Graduation Year: Fall 2021

Study Away: University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, Summer ’21


T@S: Why did you decide to join the National Student Exchange?

KM: In the winter semester of 2020, I got an email from NSE with the subject line “Do you want to travel?” which sounded great after spending months in quarantine in my apartment. I decided to look into it further and it seemed like a really great program! Studying abroad is something I was always interested in, but when COVID-19 restrictions came into play, that option was “off the table” so to speak. The international options NSE provided looked like an equally exciting opportunity that I was happy to take part in.

T@S: Emotions about studying with the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities?

KM: More than anything else, I'm very excited. I’ll be able to take classes not available here at Sam Houston State, while learning in an environment that’s new to me.

T@S: Will you be taking criminal justice courses or other electives?

KM: I have picked a variety of CJ and Sociology courses that have since been approved for me to take. Once I am properly enrolled with U of M, I will be able to pick from my approved list based on availability, time, mode, and other factors.

T@S: How will you prepare for this new learning experience? 

KM: With this opportunity being within the United States, I don’t have to worry about all the extra steps that come with travelling internationally. Beyond the normal stressors of moving into a new location, I’ll be preparing just like I would for any other semester!

T@S: What are you looking forward to the most? 

KM: I chose the University of Minnesota because of the unique course options for my degree plan, as well as the abundance of career options in my area of interest. In addition, being a summer semester, I imagine courses and related course assignments will only take up a small portion of my day-to-day routine. I hope to fill the rest of the time with an internship or volunteer position to gain valuable experience related to the career fields I’m working toward.

T@S: What are your future goals?

KM: After graduating I hope to find a career in victim advocacy, offender rehabilitation, or anything pertaining to victimology and/or restorative justice.

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