HSA offers travel opportunity

Josh Knight, Staff Writer

The Honors Student Association (HSA) will offer a one-week study abroad opportunity to Germany through the Honors Ambassadors program. The trip will span from March 11 to 19.

The application deadline for the trip is Oct. 27. In order to apply, one must be a Francis Marion student and a member of HSA. Applicants must also have obtained a certain amount of honors credit hours; freshmen need three hours, sophomores need six hours, juniors need 12 hours and seniors must have 15. To apply, students must write a detailed letter expressing why they are interested in going and how the trip will benefit them personally.

The Honors Ambassadors program provides four Francis Marion students – generally a freshman, a sophomore, a junior and a senior – a chance to represent Francis Marion at allied universities and experience transcontinental life for one week. The students are generally accompanied by two to three professors with experience in or knowledge about the country to which they will be travelling. This allows students to have a guided, travel-intensive journey in which they can comprehensively experience a country in a relatively short amount of time.

Dr. Pamela Rooks, head of the Honors Program, encourages students to apply.

“Even though we take considerably fewer students on the Honors Ambassadors trip,” Rooks said, “I’m still always shocked by the number of applicants … It is still very competitive, but there are normally only three to four applicants per class rank. With such a great opportunity, you would certainly expect more.”

While Dr. Rooks will not be attending the upcoming Honors Ambassadors trip, she has attended many in the past.

“I was amazed the first time I went to Germany with the Honors Ambassadors five years ago,” Rooks said. “I’ll admit, I had never been to Germany … and I was just astonished at how friendly, interesting, down-to-earth and funny people were – and just what a good feeling there was.”

Even though the itinerary is not set yet, Honors Ambassadors will also experience German architecture and landscape along with German culture.

“Generally, we give students a chance to experience both urban and rural areas of Germany,” Rooks said. “We don’t always make it to both, but we like spend some time in a larger city, like Berlin, and also see the Rhine … They will see beautiful places, buildings, and magnificent scenery.”

Students who have gone on previous Honors Ambassadors trips have enjoyed their experience. Lavon Davis attended the trip to Ireland last fall.

“Honors Ambassadors was a very fun and memorable experience,” Davis said. “It helped me to understand different cultures and go beyond the set of boundaries I was comfortable with.”

Rooks stressed the importance of travel as part of education.

“What’s going to distinguish you when you apply for jobs or graduate school … is going to be that you are able to show that you have taken advantage of opportunities beyond the classroom walls,” Rooks said. “You’ve proved in an absolutely concrete way that you are not afraid to get your of your comfort zone, take risks and seek out new opportunities.”