Sam Stewart | Mississippi State University

An educational psychology specialist from Edwardsville, Illinois, said the university not only prepared him for his profession, but also offered study abroad and extracurricular activities that changed his life and who holistically shaped him for the future.

Sam Stewart said he had the best time of his life last March as part of an eight-day MSU Educational Psychology course held in Seville, Spain. The College of Education student said he didn’t initially understand the relevance of study abroad programs, but when he found a short trip planned during spring break and led by his growth teacher and human development assistant clinical professor Ty Abernathy, Stewart decided to give it a try.

The experience was transformative, leading to a new level of confidence as Stewart navigated international travel and studied and toured with approximately 40 other people at MSU, ranging from freshmen to graduate students.

Stewart recalls that after arriving, one of the first things he did was attend Catholic mass in Seville’s elaborate cathedral – the fourth largest church in the world and the largest Gothic church.

“From then on it was the best eight days of my life. I talk to everyone I know about studying abroad and what it meant to me. I urge them to do this because this is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and the State of Mississippi is doing everything in its power to make it transparent,” he said.

“Dr. Ty did a great job of planning ahead, so we had structure, but also freedom and flexibility. The only thing I would change is that I wish I had chosen a longer program,” Stewart added.

On campus, he said College of Education faculty members encouraged and guided him as he worked through the program and considered graduate and career options. Enrolled in MSU’s “Thrive in Five” accelerated degree program, which puts students on track to earn both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in five years, Stewart said he’s truly been an advantage as a MSU student because the university offers one of the few undergraduate programs in the country. in Educational Psychology, whereas most students at other schools have to wait to specialize in the field during their graduate studies.

Another impactful experience that Stewart greatly values ​​is his extracurricular involvement with MSU’s Camp Kesem Chapter, which is part of a nationwide network of students who support children affected by a parent’s cancer through camp. been with understanding peers. The free weeklong summer camps are funded by individual donations and corporate support, and Stewart was part of MSU’s first in-person camp this summer. He got involved as a freshman in hopes of connecting with others and finding a niche group of friends. He found the most rewarding organization on campus working with others with the same goal of helping children.

“Camp was literally my favorite part of the whole summer. It taught me a lesson in compassion and patience in a short week,” he said. “It really helped put things into perspective I am blessed with a healthy and happy family, but this week has really shown me how much I take that for granted.

Stewart encourages MSU students to connect with others in the classroom and through additional opportunities on campus. He enthusiastically invites others to join the Camp Kesem chapter.

“If you’re looking for ways to get involved, that’s one of the biggest impacts you can have,” he said.

Sam Stewart, pictured while studying abroad in Spain.

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