Three undergraduate Shackouls Honors College students at Mississippi State University are on their way to a summer study abroad program in Turin, Italy, with help from NSPARC.

Three undergraduate Shackouls Honors College students at Mississippi State University are on their way to a summer study abroad program in Turin, Italy, with help from NSPARC. The three women are looking forward to the opportunity to study abroad and visit the European country. “I am so excited to use this opportunity to make new connections,” said Naomi Taylor, a sophomore from Mississippi, who is majoring in environmental economics and management and minoring in international studies. “I am really looking forward to visiting Italy to study and learn more about the culture.” The students will take part in a competitive six-week undergraduate study abroad program offered by Cornell University. They will take two courses, each three weeks long, taught by Cornell and visiting professors. Dr. Mimmo Parisi will be a guest lecturer in the ”Population Controversies in Europe” course. Each student plans to blog about the summer experience, as requested by MSU’s Study Abroad office. “This program relates to my personal interests. I hope to do research in Italy in the future,” said Laura Ashton Herring, a freshman from Florida majoring in the international business program. She is pursuing a double major in Spanish and economics, and her advisor recommended that she plan “three summers of impact.” Herring’s father, who is in the Navy, moves his family with his postings. She lived in Italy as a child, and her family recently moved back to Italy. As part of her entrance requirement for the MSU Honors College, she wrote a paper on “how you continue to pay to the Mafia to protect your business.” Herring would like to continue her research in Italy, possibly after her graduation, and sees her summer in Turin as “a great stepping stone to continue my growth.” Taylor studied abroad last summer when she interned for three months for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in Malawi, Africa. She “lived in the bush” and visited 17 farms to document different kinds of irrigation systems, such as solar panels, holding tanks, treadle pumps and canals. “I had just finished my freshman year and it was really intimidating to present my report to people with graduate degrees,” said Taylor, who hopes to go to graduate school for international politics. “But they were very accepting of my work and told me they would be implementing some of my ideas.” Feifei Zeng, a junior, has the most knowledge and experience in Italy. Her family immigrated to Italy when she was 11. A transfer student to MSU this year, she attended a community college last year in San Jose. She made a quick transition to MSU. “I want to be involved with as many activities on campus as I can,” said Zeng, an officer in the student chapter of the International Business Society, who is majoring in international business with a double major in Spanish and marketing. “I have the same opportunities here as any other students.” Zeng was born in China but moved to Italy and attended an international baccalaureate program. She came to the United States as a high school before enrolling at MSU. “Now, I have another connection with Cornell University,” said Zeng, who speaks three languages fluently and is studying her fourth language, Spanish, in college. “I would love to help grow a connection between MSU and Cornell, a connection I’m making because of NSPARC. And, now because of NSPARC, I can go home this summer to Italy to study and visit my family.” “We are so grateful to NSPARC,” added Taylor. “We all said we could not go on this program without NSPARC’s sponsorship. It’s so nice to have people believe in you and want to help you in your career.”