An Italian Introduction

First-Year Global Fellows (L-R): Gina Scaramella, Hannah Joyner, Emily Shaheen and Maylin Bollefer

First-year students study abroad as Global Fellows Video  KENNESAW‚ Ga. (Dec. 17, 2015…

Georgia (Dec 17, 2015)

First-year students study abroad as Global Fellows


KENNESAW‚ Ga. (Dec. 17, 2015) —  Home for the holidays has special meaning for 27 first-year Kennesaw State University students who recently returned from a seven-week education abroad experience in Montepulciano, Italy.

These high-achieving students, half of whom had never traveled outside of the U.S., are part of a new initiative that takes first-semester students abroad. It is a joint venture of Kennesaw State’s Division of Global Affairs and University College.

Students spent their first seven weeks on the Kennesaw Campus and the second seven weeks in Montepulciano in the Tuscany region of Italy.

Before leaving, students were able to experience a full array of campus activities, attend a football game or join a sorority, explained Amy Howton, associate professor of health promotion and physical education, who accompanied the students to Italy.

Spending the first half of the semester on campus gave Howton and fellow faculty member Todd Harper, director of KSU Programs in Tuscany, a chance to work with students on team-building activities and survival Italian-language lessons.

“For the Global Fellows who study abroad their first semester, they become more interested in globalization issues early in their college careers and are more likely to choose another education abroad experience,” he said.  “Students are also more likely to graduate on time if they participate in an education abroad opportunity.”

While many universities offer education abroad for first-year students, Vice Provost for Global Affairs and Chief International Officer Lance Askildson called Kennesaw State’s program distinct.

“The Global Fellows Program is a unique platform for first-semester freshmen to be introduced to the globalization of society and international employment opportunities from the very start of their college careers,” said Askildson. “These students cultivate a sophisticated worldview as that helps them better understand and navigate the increasingly globalized and interconnected world of education and career development from their first days as college students.”

The education abroad experience began in Montepulciano’s Antica Fortezza Poliziana, a historic 13th-century fortress where KSU classes are offered. It is the University’s first permanent international education facility, which opened in the summer of 2015 and now offers year-round education abroad programs in Tuscany.

Howton explained that studying at Montepulciano is a big change for many students. Only about 1,000 people reside inside the fortress walls, compared to the 33,000 students at KSU.

Students learned how other cultures handle issues like conservation, agriculture and wellness. They also learned about sustainable agriculture and how Italy handles genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

“By immersing students in learning opportunities both inside the state-of-the-art classrooms as well as the larger classroom of cities like Montepulciano, Florence and Rome, First-Year Global Fellows start their education as global citizens,” said

Keisha Hoerrner, dean of University College at Kennesaw State. “Many students discovered that the issues they had learned in their first-year seminar course on campus, prior to their arrival in Italy, took on new relevance as they lived and studied in another country.”

For Jordan Engeseth, traveling abroad has made a significant impact on her life. The exercise science major plans to study abroad again next year.

“Traveling abroad means more to me than I ever thought it could. It has taught me so much more about myself than any other thing in my life,” said Engeseth.  “Seeing the sights, trying new things and truly embracing the life of another culture are something that we should all experience.”


- Tiffany Capuano; photos by Amy Howton


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit