UW-Eau Claire has long been a national leader among similar-sized institutions for our numbers of students who study abroad each year. So it's not surprising to hear a graduate say that they visited 10 different countries while traveling on university sponsored trips.
What is surprising, however, is that only three of the stamps in Ellie Davis' passport over the last four years came from her semester of study abroad. The other seven countries were visited through connections to undergraduate collaborative student-faculty research and the international concert tours of the Women's Concert Chorale.
That's a lot of sky miles for one undergraduate career, and those are only her international stops. Davis also managed to log travel to eight different states across the U.S. while she pursued her education degree.
Before we post a short Q&A with this Spanish education major from Dodgeville, let's recap her whirlwind tour:
- Ireland and Northern Ireland — International tour with Women’s Concert Chorale.
- Costa Rica — Study abroad semester with excursion trips to Panama and Nicaragua.
- Civil Rights Pilgrimage in March 2017 — Stops in Atlanta, Georgia; Birmingham Montgomery, Selma, Tuscaloosa, Alabama; Gulfport and Jackson, Mississippi; New Orleans, Louisiana; Little Rock, Arkansas; and Memphis, Tennessee.
- Peru — International research trip to public, international baccalaureate, boarding high schools.
2017-18 winter break
- Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria and Slovakia — International tour with Women’s Concert Chorale.
- Oklahoma City, Oklahoma — Presented findings on global education research from Peru at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research.
- Houston, Texas — Student-teaching semester in the Aldine Independent School District.
We asked Davis a few questions about the lasting impact of her extensive student travel experience. Here are the thoughts she felt best to share with current and future Blugolds.
What is the most important thing you learned about yourself through all these opportunities?
Each travel opportunity that I have had at UWEC provided me with a unique perspective that has shaped my mindset. Overall, I have learned that I am capable of what I think I am not. I have learned that when you’re faced with a challenge, it is so rewarding to take the challenge and be able to learn from it and feel accomplished. Every travel experience I have had has provided me with new perspective and knowledge.
What is the most important thing you learned about the world?
Because of my experiences with many cultures, both in and out of the U.S., I have learned that difference and diversity are beautiful and necessary. And yet, it is so amazing to find how much we have in common with our worldly neighbors. Do not turn your back on those who are different from you; turn toward them, ask questions and you will find a friend.
Were there any faculty or staff who stand out as having positively impacted your ability to take advantage of these adventures?
I owe many thanks to the UWEC music department and their passion for providing musical opportunities on an international level. Dr. Frank Watkins has shared his passion for musical excellence and international recognition of our music with Women’s Concert Chorale and I thank him for always believing in us.
Dr. Eric Torres saw potential in and took a chance on me for work on his established international research project. His time and dedication made that project possible for me and an excellent experience. The trip would not have been possible without the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs — our university’s funding and opportunity for undergraduate research is one of a kind.
If you had to describe this place to a high school student in one sentence, what would you say?
If you’re looking for an experience that will challenge how you think about the world through caring community, critical thinking, passion and immense opportunity, UWEC is the place to be.
Top image caption: Education research group exploring Peru via dune buggy. Seated on lowest level: Ellie Davis; Seated on top of buggy: Sebastian Torres, Sam Rossmiller, Dr. Eric Torres; Standing: Jenna Washetas, Ian Harvatine, Leah Wagner