What Students Are Saying About the Ashford University Travel Studies Program
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
Shawn Acosta, 45, of Cherry Hill, New Jersey is a mother to four children. Her husband works as a morning radio show host and she keeps busy helping with his show, raising the kids, and volunteering at several charities. She is pursuing her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology degree online at Ashford University, and is scheduled to graduate in April 2011.
In May 2010, Shawn participated in Ashford’s Travel Studies program. “I decided to take the travel opportunity with Ashford because it was such an affordable way to see all that I wanted to see in England, with the bonus of educated professors to help answer any questions I had.” Although she was a little worried about leaving her family for 11 days, she admits, “They all survived much better than I anticipated.”
One of the most memorable moments of her trip was visiting the Lake District. “Reading about Jane Austen and then walking in her footsteps gave me a new perspective on her work. Until you see the Lake District, I do not think you can appreciate the words from ‘Pride & Prejudice’: ‘What are men to rocks and mountains?’ Nor can you really understand the spongy give of the moors beneath your feet just by reading ‘Jane Eyre’; being there allows you to take a physical step into the book. In a certain way, you can become one with the literature you are studying.”
The experience has actually inspired Shawn to write a novel! “Pen to paper, the writing has been flowing ever since I returned.” She has also been motivated to keep traveling. “I was impressed by how easy world travel can be, and it has given me the courage to explore. I am already planning a trip to Italy.”
To anyone considering traveling abroad, Shawn says, “Don’t let the opportunity pass you by. And pack light. Very light.”
Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Management
Minnesota native Kathy Gargano is an Operations Manager for a large grocery retailer that she has been with for 28 years. A little over a year ago, she made the decision to earn a Bachelor’s degree, and is now in her second year at Ashford University.
Several months ago, she received an email regarding Ashford’s Travel Studies program. “I didn’t hesitate for a minute to get more information. Once I had the details, I signed up to be part of the adventure. My biggest hurdle was the expense of the trip, but I am pretty good at saving money and was able to pull everything together – I even had enough saved for spending money.”
In the summer of 2010, Kathy boarded a plane bound for England. There, she found a culture rich with history. She was fascinated with the architecture of the cathedrals and the stories about the people who once lived in them, she was delighted to walk the moors where the Bronte sisters grew up, and she was intrigued by the subtle distinctions between English and American culture.
But the most memorable part of her experience had more to do with the people with whom she was travelling. “I loved the opportunity to meet other students. It was amazing to me that we were drawn to each other so quickly and that we became such fabulous friends in a matter of hours. We dubbed ourselves ‘Team Fun’ and lived up to our name!”
To students considering the Travel Studies program, Kathy says: “There is no better way to experience your first international trip. You will learn, grow, and have fun. You will make memories and friends to last a lifetime.”
Once Kathy graduates with her Bachelor’s degree, she hopes to find a job in training and development, and is considering pursuing a Master’s degree as well.
Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Management
April Olsen, 29, has always wanted to travel abroad, and the online Bachelor’s program she is enrolled in was the last place she expected to give her the opportunity. When she first saw the announcement about Ashford University’s Travel Studies program, she was thrilled. “I made the decision the moment the announcement came out – everything else was just details.”
The program took her to England for 11 days, a country she found full of hospitable and kind people. She also formed fulfilling friendships with her fellow travelers. “I am an online student and this experience allowed me to meet my classmates in person; it was great to put faces with names!”
The most memorable moment for April happened at Longleat Castle in Wiltshire, which houses a 17th century grand piano. “I was blessed with the honor to play for my classmates. It is a memory I will treasure forever!” But it is not just April who will treasure that memory; several of her classmates dubbed this moment their most memorable, as well! Kathy Gargano describes the experience eloquently: “The beautiful music poured through this opulent home and brought tears to my eyes and gave me chills as I listened to what I later discovered was April’s own composition. She had previously not named the piece and found it fitting to call it ‘Longleat’.”
April can’t wait for the next opportunity to travel. “Earning college credit and experiencing a new culture is a win-win. Since Ashford offers the Travel Studies program to alumni, I plan on traveling with Ashford well after I have graduated.”
Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Management
Sara Thompson, 26, lives in a small town in Georgia and is enrolled in the Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Management online degree program at Ashford University. In the summer of 2010, Sara took advantage of the Travel Studies program at Ashford, which offered an 11-day tour of England, including visits to the cities of Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Bath, and London, among others.
“I have always wanted to travel abroad; when I looked at the information about the trip, it just called to me. After hashing out the details with my family, we made it happen.”
The eleven days Sara spent in England were unlike any she had experienced before. She especially enjoyed meeting her fellow students and professors. “To be reminded that there are other non-traditional students out there was wonderful. It was also a joy to meet three members of faculty; they were able to tell us a lot about the college we were all attending but had not seen.”
Sara also shared that she learned much about herself on the trip. “I gained some confidence that I had been lacking. I left the safety of my home and traveled over 4000 miles away without knowing a single person. That was a huge risk for me to take and yet I would do it again in a heartbeat.”
The confidence Sara gained from this experience has left her with a stronger sense of direction. “Before I left for England, I was on the fence as to whether I wanted to continue on and get my Master’s degree in Organizational Management. By the time I came home, I not only had an answer to this question, but I also knew exactly where I wanted to earn my degree, and that is right where I am now, at Ashford University.”
Master of Arts in Education, Culturally Responsive Education Specialization
Stephanie Tomchesson, 38, lives in San Antonio, Texas with her husband and two dogs. A seasoned special education teacher, Stephanie works specifically with autistic and dyslexic students, and is currently pursuing her Master of Arts in Education with a specialization in Culturally Responsive Education online at Ashford University.
“When I first started teaching, I had many English as a Second Language and bilingual students and I used my Spanish to communicate with their families. I had very basic ‘survival’ Spanish skills and always wondered how long it would take to be bilingual.” This interest sparked Stephanie’s curiosity about immersion programs, and when she received an email about Ashford’s nine-day travel studies program in Cuernavaca, Mexico, she knew she had found a great opportunity.
The trip to Mexico instilled in Stephanie a deeper understanding of Mexican culture, and the confidence and motivation to seriously pursue her dream of becoming bilingual. She climbed pyramids, visited cathedrals and orphanages, ate new and strange food, learned to salsa dance, and immersed herself in the Spanish language. “On the last day, I attended an hour lecture in Spanish and understood 98% of it! I was able to interact by asking and answering questions in Spanish. This will stay on my mind until I go back and stay long enough to become a true bilingual!”
Stephanie’s experience in Mexico also revealed opportunities she had not previously considered. “I am seriously thinking about trying to be an online professor. That would allow me to travel while I work and to get involved in international education projects and organizations. I also met several teachers from my state who were working on their bilingual certifications in Cuernavaca; I may return someday to do the same. Being a certified Spanish speaker would open even more doors and opportunities.”
Regardless of which path Stephanie chooses to pursue after graduation, she knows it will be influenced by her travel studies experience. “This was an experience of a lifetime and I feel so blessed to have been able to go and learn so much while having a blast!”