A year ago, Psychology and Counseling graduate student Allison Keegan had an epiphany after a professor assigned her to participate in an activity that would place her in an environment of diversity, giving her an understanding of what it's like to walk in another person's shoes.
Keegan chose to attend a festival put on by Saudi Arabian students attending Pittsburg State University. After spending the evening surrounded by students from a various countries, the 24-year-old realized how eye-opening it was to learn about other cultures - and knew any hesitations she'd had about traveling the world needed to be put behind her.
"I always had the mindset that I could never study abroad, that it was only for affluent people," she said. "I've always had to work a lot and pay my way through college. I thought it was only the lucky people who get to have those experiences."
Once she committed to spend the summer traveling and studying in Finland, South Korea, and Australia (thanks in part to a PSU travel stipend provided to students who want to study abroad), nothing held her back. She worked hard to save money, searched for good travel deals, and prepared for an amazing summer. Last June and July, she skipped across three different continents, participating in two different summer study programs and experiencing more than she'd ever imagined.
Now that she's back and on track to complete her master's degree, she wants other students to consider a summer of adventure too - while they still have the support of PSU's Office of International Programs and Services.
"If you truly want to experience something, you can do it. You make your own luck," she said. "It was incredibly worth it. I learned so much about myself by studying abroad. I feel like you'd have to pinch me to wake me up from this dream."