Students Take Summer Classes Around the World

Posted by: Elizabeth Richardson on June 6, 2018, No Comments

Once again faculty members at East Stroudsburg University are taking advantage of the summer months to give their students a hands-on learning experience that is different from anything they’ll experience in the classroom.

Four faculty members, in four different disciplines, will take their students to four different regions of the world. Steve Ives, interim director of international programs, says faculty-led trips are a great introduction to international travel because they aren’t too long and students are with a group. “These trips are typically two weeks in length – just enough time to ignite an interest in travel,” he said. Some of these summer trips occur every year, so students learn about them from upperclassmen and get excited for their own opportunity to travel. “Traveling with a professor and a group of peers also helps ease the minds of students who have never traveled abroad before. It’s also a comfort to their parents!”

One summer study abroad course, however, is a brand new opportunity at ESU. Elaine Rodriguez, instructor of public health and undergraduate internship coordinator will take four students to Kenya for the entire month of July. They will complete an intensive internship program there while earning valuable credits and opportunities to broaden their knowledge of public health on a global scale.

“This all happened so fast,” Rodriguez explained. “I brought Beldina Opiyo in to our global health class as a guest speaker. She talked about her foundation in Africa, and students wanted to be a part it.” Opiyo is the co-founder and director of the Alice Visionary Foundation Project in Kenya, a non-governmental organization, whose mission is caring for and supporting the vulnerable group of individuals infected and affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Opiyo received a bachelor’s degree in community health in 2002 and a Master of Public Health from ESU in 2004 and was an adjunct instructor here before returning to her native country to begin her work with “Alice.” “Students were so taken by her work, and so eager to become a part of it that they wanted to do their summer internship at her organization,” Rodriguez said. She worked with Denise Seigart, Ph.D., dean of the college of health sciences, and Joanne Bruno, J.D., provost and vice president of academic affairs, to develop a month-long study abroad internship for four students where they will conduct Orphan and Vulnerable Children Caregiver (OVC) Household Research in collaboration with Alice Visionary Foundation Project through household surveys. The study area will be done in Masogo/Nyangóma Ward where “Alice” implements the School Scholarship Program and Group Savings and Loan targeting OVC Caregivers. The students will analyze the data they collect, and the results of this research will be used to improve the quality of services offered and programs Alice Visionary Foundation Project implements for the well-being of the community and also to design new programs that can help reduce households’ poverty.

“This is an incredible opportunity for our students to gain hands-on experience and visit a place they might not otherwise have the chance to see,” Provost Bruno said. “It’s also a testament to our public health program. Being able to connect with an alumna and former faculty member can open the door to similar opportunities for future Warriors. We are so proud to see the impact a degree from ESU can make on the world, and hope it inspires our current students.”

All four students participating in this trip — Elizabeth Gordon, Stephanie Huff, Tanya Claudio, and Tamara Dennie — are extended learning students at ESU’s Lehigh Valley Center in Bethlehem, Pa., majoring in public health. The extended learning program is designed for continuing and returning adult students with year-round courses at times that accommodate the demands of work and family schedule.

Claudio, a senior from Easton, Pa., always wanted a college education, but she married young, started a family and never thought it was the right time to go back to school. On March 31, 2013 – a date she remembers because it was Easter Sunday – she saw a full-page ad for ESU’s accelerated degree program in public health. “I was an empty-nester by then,” Claudio said. “I decided right then that this is the time to pursue my dream.” At that time, she couldn’t have imagined her dream would lead her to an internship in Africa.

Dennie, a senior from Allentown, Pa., and Gordon, a senior from Easton, Pa., both learned about ESU’s extending learning program in public health during a college fair at Northampton Community College.

“It’s a chance to put everything I’ve learned these past four years to work,” Dennie said. She has always wanted to work with children that need developmental assistance for a healthier quality of life. Working with children who have or are orphaned because of AIDS will give her the opportunity to do just that. For Huff, a senior from Easton, Pa., this internship is the final course in completing her bachelor’s degree. She too is excited to put the knowledge she learned in the classroom to work. “Having this opportunity will give me a greater insight into the public health field. I think this will help me determine what areas I want to focus as I pursue my career,” Huff said.

For these students, continuing their own education meant making sacrifices, and to complete this internship those sacrifices go beyond the expected struggles of juggling work, school and life. They are taking a leave of absence from their jobs – leaving behind their paychecks along with their significant others, children and pets. “I’ve never been away from my husband and boys for more than a weekend,” Claudio said. Understanding that sentiment, Gordon agreed, “I’m used to having adventures with my husband. It will be hard to leave him behind for this one.” Dennie says her daughter will miss her dearly and her coworkers may get tired of picking up her slack at work, but, she says, “everyone around us knows what we are doing is important and for the greater good.”

More Study Abroad Opportunities at ESU this Summer

Already this summer, Timothy Connolly, Ph.D., associate professor of philosophy, took nine students to China for an Introduction to Eastern Philosophy course, and Anthony Drago, Ed.D., professor and chair of psychology, took eight students to the U.S. Virgin Islands for a course in cross-cultural comparison of behavioral therapy.

The philosophy students had the opportunity to visit two major Chinese cities with historical roots to learn about Chinese philosophy. Dr. Connolly said the course presented the ideas of thinkers from cultures as diverse as those of India, China, Japan, and the Middle East. The class studied metaphysics, logic and epistemology, and visited sites including the Great Wall, the Summer Palace, the Forbidden City and Shaolin Temple.

The following students participated in the China trip: Sarah Augustine, a sophomore majoring in middle level education from Moosic, Pa.; Kelsie Bradigan, a senior majoring in early childhood education from Bangor, Pa.; Anthony Caprario, a graduate student studying political science from Stroudsburg, Pa.; Ming Li Goldston, a junior majoring in English from East Stroudsburg, Pa.; Victoria Gordon, a senior majoring in public health from East Stroudsburg, Pa.; Shakera Holness, a senior majoring in biology from Philadelphia, Pa.; Makenley Jean, a junior majoring in business management from Philadelphia, Pa.; Jace Lebron, a junior majoring in psychology from Scranton, Pa.; and Alexi Meggison, a junior majoring in digital media technologies from Landsdale, Pa.

Dr. Drago’s psychology class met for about 18 hours for intensive instruction on behavioral therapy and an overview of major theories used to compare cultures before heading to St. Croix. Once there, students worked with a not-for-profit agency to provide psychology services and therapies to communities in need. They also had a chance to tour the island’s historic sites.

The following students participated in the St. Croix trip: Jamie Daigle, a senior majoring in communication sciences and disorders from East Stroudsburg, Pa.; Megan Harding, a senior majoring in communication sciences and disorders from West Pittston, Pa.; Stephanie Hertel, a senior majoring in psychology from West Babylon, N.Y.; Sydney Largmann, a senior majoring in psychology from Tappan, N.Y.; Nia Lombardo, a senior majoring in communication sciences and disorders from Avoca, Pa.; Victoria Mignone, a junior majoring in psychology from Valley Stream, N.Y.; Barbara Ortiz, a senior majoring in psychology from Hopatcong, N.J.; and Raquel Sosa, a senior majoring in psychology from Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

Robert McKenzie, Ph.D., distinguished professor and chair of communication, will take his comparative media class to Sweden this July. This course will expose students to media from around the world and teach them how to compare media content, formats, systems, and ownership structures. Dr. McKenzie hopes the class will help students better understand underlying assumptions that help shape perceptions of the world.

The following students plan to participate in the Sweden trip: Summer Beal, a senior majoring in communication from Toms River, N.J.; Grace Baker, a senior majoring in communication from Fogelsville, Pa.; Shauna Charlton, a junior majoring in communication from Stroudsburg, Pa.; Julia Spanburgh, a junior majoring in communication from Riverhead, N.Y.; Maliyah Jones, a junior majoring in English from Effort, Pa.; Robert Hager, a senior majoring in digital media technologies from Bethlehem, Pa.; Austin Patrick, a junior majoring in sport management from Sellersville, Pa.; and Destiny Mott, a sophomore majoring in chemical biotechnology from East Stroudsburg, Pa.

To learn more about study abroad opportunities contact Ives at 570-422-3527 or email