Impact on Study Abroad
The College of Business and Economic Development traditionally offers three summer study abroad programs to business students each year: Asian Studies, British Studies, and Italian Studies. Over the years, the college has built strong relationships with companies and contacts in each of these three countries. Dr. Brigitte Burgess reached out to our contacts in Italy to check on them early on in the pandemic development.
“The Italian Business and Culture course is designed to give students exposure to businesses and industry leaders in a personal way. Our partnerships have developed into friendships over the years, and our connections to them and their families are personal. When the situation began to unfold in Italy, I reached out right away to make sure they were okay and to see if there was anything we could do to help,” said Dr. Brigitte Burgess, Associate Professor of Merchandising in the School of Marketing.
Like many universities around the nation, the Southern Miss Study Abroad Office had to make the difficult decision to cancel all three programs for Summer 2020 as part of a protective measure against COVID-19. Although this was a challenging decision, the safety and well-being of the university community is top priority. Our college had 50 business students enroll in the three summer programs for 2020, increasing by 25% when compared to enrollment last summer. The Study Abroad Task Force, made up of business faculty and staff, were thrilled with this increase and were looking forward to hearing about the student’s experiences upon their return.
Many of the students who were planning to participate in study abroad this summer will not have another chance to before they graduate. However, some plan to re-enroll for summer 2021.
“Study abroad is something I have always wanted to participate in, and I have worked hard to earn scholarships to go. I feel like traveling to Italy as a hospitality and tourism management major go hand-in-hand and having that experience could benefit both my personal and professional goals. Whenever I heard we would no longer be traveling to Italy this summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I was devastated. There is so much uncertainty during this time, but I know we have to be resilient. I have made the decision to study abroad next summer and feel by doing so, I can learn how Italy has been impacted and changed through the current events. Next year will be the perfect opportunity to learn about the endurance and strength of the country of Italy in relation to its business and culture.” - Will Walters, Junior Hospitality and Tourism Management major who plans to attend Italian Studies in Summer 2021.
Students like Will, who have chosen to study abroad next summer, will have priority enrollment and will be guaranteed a spot in their preferred program. The task force anticipates enrollment numbers to be greater than usual due to this unique situation. To prepare for this, in the upcoming fall the college will launch a fundraising initiative through The USM Foundation, providing an outlet for individuals interested in providing financial support to business students who are studying abroad.