Carmen Nelsen ’14 and Jeremy Wiles ’15 joined sixteen other students to share their experiences studying off-campus, and how important off-campus study is to them.

At the Associated Colleges of the Midwest’s (ACM) sixth annual Student Symposium, the students gave individual presentations and then to engaged in panel discussions and took questions from the audience.

Vice President for Student Affairs Houston Dougharty accompanied the students and moderated one of the panel discussions. In addition, he coordinated an outing for the symposium participants to experience a world premiere play at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre.

About Carmen Nelsen’s Travels

Nelsen, a political science major from Lincoln, Neb., studied in Washington, D.C., as part of the Grinnell-in-Washington program. 

She is grateful, she says, for the way her off-campus studies contributed to her “professional development, self-confidence, and ability to communicate with a variety of people in different contexts, from ambassadors and dignitaries to immigrant detainees fighting for their chance to stay in the United States.”

Watch Nelsen’s presentation: Champagne and Detention Centers: My Semester in Washington, DC

About Jeremy Wiles’ Travels

Wiles, an economics major from Pittsburg, Calif., studied in Copenhagen through the Danish Institute for Study Abroad.

“Whether we are talking about a city of 10,000 like Grinnell, Iowa, or half a million people like Copenhagen, community building is always significant,” he says. In his presentation, he discusses the qualities he found beneficial in both American and Danish advocacy groups and organizations.  A first-generation college student with immigrant parents, he says, “I wanted to [study abroad] for my family. The study abroad opportunity was my chance to pioneer an experience. I tell my little cousins, "If I can do it, so can you."

Watch Wiles’ presentation: Cultivating Social Responsibility and Community

About the Symposium

As a group, the eighteen students studied in a total of more than two dozen different countries. Their academic interests are eclectic – ranging across the humanities, sciences, and social sciences – as shown by their major fields of study and by the wide variety of subjects they pursued off-campus.

For 50 years, the ACM colleges have collaborated to offer off-campus study programs, both international and domestic, for their students. The annual student symposium celebrates this history, as well as the commitment by ACM colleges to providing off-campus study opportunities as an integral part of education in the liberal arts and sciences.

See the list of symposium participants for links to profiles of the students and videos of their presentations.


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