Western's participation in the National Student Exchange fosters diverse learning

National Student Exchange participant
The National Student Exchange (NSE) gives students a chance to explore and enhance their learning at universities all over North America.

The program allows students from participating universities to spend a semester at another institution in the United States, its territories or Canada. This means Western students can spend time elsewhere, returning to Gunnison with new perspectives and diversifying the learning experience back on campus. Meanwhile, many students from other universities and colleges choose to “study abroad” at Western, bringing with them new ideas and points of view.

Take for example Madeline Grunklee from University of Minnesota. She decided to study at Western and received an award for how she utilized her surroundings well and explored the Gunnison Valley as much as she could.

“My largest, most time consuming achievement was a full academic year of experience in my field of Wildlife Biology through independent study with a Wildlife Biology professor, Pat Magee,” Grunklee said.

Grunklee explored everything from mountaintops to the bottom of the river. She describes her experience as finding herself and said she learned new things that would have not been possible in a big city. She explored the “seemingly limitless public lands the Central Colorado region has to offer.”

“In reflection on my year at Western, my NSE symbolizes more to me than just what my accomplishments reflect at face value. The following achievements and experiences were immensely impactful in my life for my personal growth and development and I will never forget them,” Grunklee said.

Grunklee worked outside of her comfort zone. Every weekend, she tried something she had never done before. She found a balance between pushing herself academically and scholastically. She maintained a 4.0 GPA while studying at Western but also carved out time for herself and stayed  active outdoors. 

“Through my NSE participation, I’ve completely altered my attitude of my physical abilities and personal connection with the natural world. In reminiscing on my past year, I realized my life has been impacted substantially as a result of my exchange. I discovered the best version of myself on my exchange,” Grunklee said.

On the flip side, Western senior Cody Rosenthal spent the Fall 2016 semester in Sherbrook, Quebec, Canada studying Exercise Sport Science and Business. He was the first Mountaineer to do an exchange with a Canadian school.

“I decided to go to Canada because I am a huge hockey fan and what better place to go then Canada? The campus I picked was the same size as Western so that was a big reason as to why I choose Bishop’s,” Rosenthal said.

NSE students explore new campuses, places and relationships. Students get the chance to try different things, create life-changing memories and overcome challenges—better preparing them for their futures.

“The hardest thing that I experienced while studying aboard was having the issue of not knowing French at all. I was able to pick some up, but in the long run it was not enough to really get a lot of information and help from people while visiting other places,” Rosenthal said.

NSE is designed to allow students to try something different without breaking the bank by paying for out-of-state tuition. Western accommodates all types of students, and the program is open for any student to apply, even if the student is from out-of-state.

“I was a scholarship volleyball player at Western before I had a career-ending injury. After I realized my career was over, I decided it was time to challenge myself by trying something completely new,” said Madeline Robertson, a Western senior currently studying Political Science at Louisiana State University.

NSE allows students to experience a new learning environment that is life changing and will stick with them forever. This program can change how a student views their world and what possibilities are open for their futures.

“I would hands down suggest this program to absolutely anyone. It has been one of the best decisions I've ever made. Being a part of NSE is a life changer,” Robertson said. “Some of my best friends here at LSU are girls on NSE from other schools from around the country.”

Story by Grace Flynn.

Thursday, March 9, 2017 - 1:15pm