Bahamian Exchange Student Grateful for USM Study Abroad Program

PINE BELT, Miss. (WDAM) – The University of Southern Mississippi attracts not only locals, but also people from all over.

“An opportunity presented itself to get a level education, and I took that opportunity and ran with it,” Ka’lon Duncanson said.

Many are familiar with the main campus which sits in the heart of Hattiesburg. However, Ka’lon Duncanson, from Freeport, Bahamas, has invested in the opportunity to dive deep into marketing in marine studies and scuba diving at Gulf Park Campus in Long Beach.

“I went back home, [and] I quit my job,” Duncanson said. “At the time, I had already applied to USM to work out the VISA process, and by December I was back in America.”

You probably think Duncanson is a student abroad, which he is, but not of a traditional nature.

The University provides pre-departure preparation as well as on-site support, but Duncanson took another route.

Russ Willis, assistant professor of management, said Duncanson had done “everything”.

“So he came to the University of Southern Mississippi as an exchange student,” Willis said.

“He’s getting a full degree at Southern Miss, so he’s not just here for a semester or a year because we have students who are only here for a shorter time,” Willis added. “He just wanted to experience things like other American students, so he was really interested in pursuing a British education.”

From the Bahamas to the Gulf Coast, to embark on Business Management Studies Abroad in the UK. Duncanson said he doesn’t really want to limit himself to studying abroad.

“I just wanted to break down those walls and break those thoughts of I can’t do it and show other international students that you can if I can you can,” Duncanson said. “That was a big part of that for me.”

“[I] I did a bit of crowdfunding and just believed in myself that I was going to go to London,” Duncanson added. “I just did what I had to do, I worked hard.”

Taking advantage of opportunities and utilizing resources, Willis said Duncanson did just that…and more.

“He went to some… Westin plays that I see as the equivalent of a Broadway play, so he hadn’t seen a big musical production like that, and he went to several of them. and loved them,” Willis said.

Duncanson said Crusin’ the Coast and Hurricanes really brought him to the Gulf Coast, and when he’s not busy traveling and learning new things, he’s busy with several student outreach organizations, one of which he created himself.

“I started a marine conservation and scuba diving group on campus about a year ago because that’s where I want to get my business degree,” Duncanson said. “We love aquarium tours. During fall vacation, we went to the New Orleans Aquarium. So we do a lot of aquarium tours.

“We partners and are involved in the Mississippi State Outreach Program, they do monthly beach cleanups, so we’re involved with that as well,” Duncanson added.

Duncanson plans to graduate next year in hopes of expanding scuba diving in southern Mississippi and the United States.

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