U.S. Student's Career Came Into Focus Through International Experience

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Kristi is a Missouri State student from Lockwood, Missouri. She grew up on a farm, loves animals and is fascinated by plants. She is deeply interested in the natural world as she has experienced it in Dade County. She was the first in her family to attend college and she came to MSU to major in biology with a vague goal to possibly teach or do research in the future.

The scope of her interest greatly expanded during her second year at Missouri State when she took General Biology II. This course featured a virtual global classroom section with students in Brazil, studying the same topic at their university in the Amazon region. Realizing the Brazilian students shared her interest but were able to explore the vast biodiversity of the Amazon opened Kristi’s perspective to the world beyond Missouri.

Motivated by the course, she joined an Education Abroad program the summer before her senior year. This program brought together a multinational team (American, Brazilian, Chinese, and Indian) of 15 students to work on a project of comparative studies in conservation biology. The students spent two weeks based in Manaus, Brazil studying the structure and dynamics of the Amazon Rainforest – and two weeks at the MSU Bull Shoals Field Station studying the ecosystems of southwest Missouri.

These international experiences had a profound impact on Kristi. Now she is a staff botanist at the Emílio Goeldi Museum of Natural History in Belém, Brazil, with plans to return to rural Missouri in two years to teach biology to the next generation of students.

Big ideas

Big idea

Comparative studies through a “global classroom” experience can open new opportunities for students to develop an international perspective and intercultural team skills.