National exchange proves enriching

Stephanie Fullmer, spent many days on the beach, visited to universal studios, went deep sea fishing, held an alligator and rode a camel at the Miami Zoo while attending Florida International University as part of the National Student Exchange.

The NSE has almost 200 schools that participate in their program. Currently, there are 13 UVU students attending other universities across the United States and US territories. There are also 12 students currently attending UVU from other universities as part of the NSE.

“It’s amazing to see what a wonderful fit UVU is for them coming from these schools across the nation,” said Julie Bagley, NSE director at UVU. “They really like the skiing, hiking, boating, they love Utah. They’ve always heard how beautiful it is. Most of the others [NSE students] have a connection with family or friends that they know here.”

“I think the program itself enhances the campus overall,” said Sadie Blasucci, Bagley’s intern. “Either way, we have these people coming in that take away the UVU experience, or we have these students that go out and become better students and better people only to return back and improve the campus from the inside as well.”

The NSE program is custom and pertains specifically towards the student’s individual goals and degree. According to Bagley, students are required to complete a form about their classes with their advisors to assure that their credits transfer appropriately. They are then asked to give a list of three to five schools that they are interested in attending.

“The customization is key,” said Bagley. “I hope that I can get them in their first priority. In most cases, about 90 percent of the students go to their first choice.”

Fullmer was 18 years old when she went to study exercise science in Miami, in the fall of last year and spring of 2012. Her life was changed as she went to Miami where she had no friends, no family and was completely on her own. When she could not afford her second semester, her parents sold their piano so she could continue her education at Florida International University. She explained that the NSE helped her better understand herself, other cultures, other people, and most importantly helped her appreciate her Utah roots.

“Whatever sacrifice you have to make, even if you have to sell your piano – you’re still paying UVU tuition. Even if you think, it might set me back, I might not finish school as quickly, do it,” Fullmer said. “You will have an incredible experience that you are not going to be offered again, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and take it, grab it as fast as you can. I know that I grew so much as a person, that I would not be the same person I am today without that experience. Make the decision, find out where you can go and find somewhere that you want to go. I would do it again in a heartbeat.”

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