An exchange program between residential colleges at Washington State University (WSU) in the United States and the University of New England, NSW, is enabling student leaders from both universities to experience life, work, and study in another hemisphere.
The program, for college Resident Fellows, allows them to experience a year of study at the partner university while working in a residential college as part of its management team.
Zac Gazzard returned to UNE earlier this year after a year at WSU, during which he not only pursued his undergraduate studies (in environmental science and law) and worked as a Resident Fellow, but also participated fully in the university’s sporting activities and student leadership programs.
“The Washington State program is unique among exchange programs for Australian students,” Zac said. “There are few other programs that offer immediate immersion in a team of campus leaders. And the Resident Fellow job, while demanding and time-consuming, rewards participants with free room and board while they are in the United States for a year.”
During his time at WSU, Zac was a member of the Washington State Men’s Crew rowing team when it came first in the Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships. He also received a scholarship to travel to Wisconsin and attend a conference on college leadership programs in more than 37 States. His travels included visits to California, Hawaii and New York City, and a skiing trip to Canada.
Tahnee Curtis from UNE’s Austin College was a participant in the exchange program at the same time as Zac. Tahnee, whose passion is broadcasting, was involved in WSU’s Student Broadcasting Club and Cable 8 Productions – the independent, student-operated television station based on the WSU campus. She was selected to travel to Las Vegas for a week of broadcasting experience, and is now continuing her experience of broadcasting in Los Angeles.
Travelling in the opposite direction, two students from WSU arrived at UNE in January and are spending the current academic year studying towards their degrees, working as Resident Fellows, and enjoying college life and the New England environment. Kasey Crawford is based in Austin College, and Myrtice Dobler in Earle Page College.
“I love it here,” Kasey said. “It’s a very similar town-university atmosphere to home – and everyone’s super friendly.” She has participated enthusiastically in all the college sporting activities, and has enjoyed her coursework in Australian history and politics and Indigenous studies.
Kasey is working towards a double degree in journalism and humanities/cultural studies at WSU. “I think I’ll be a lot more open-minded and sensitive, now, to other cultures and their perceptions of the United States,” she said.
THE PHOTOGRAPH displayed here shows Zac Gazzard with a WSU sports banner. It expands to include Kasey Crawford (centre) and Andrea Gledhill, Head of UNE’s Earle Page and Austin Colleges.