Shae-Elise Dixon ’24 will be studying abroad in South Korea this fall, aided by a recent donation from alumna Misty Hood Whitlock ’00 and her husband Kyle Whitlock to fund a study abroad scholarship.
Misty’s passion for traveling abroad began with her first international trip, to London after her junior year at Oglethorpe. It was a transformative experience for her and started a life-long interest in travel and learning about different cultures.
“There is so much that you can learn and so many opportunities to grow when traveling abroad,” says Misty. Kyle also values the exposure to different cultures and different people that come with visiting new places, in part because it offers the chance to understand differences but also to see our many commonalities.
The Whitlocks are avid travelers, having visited 28 countries over the years. Their investment in a study abroad scholarship at Oglethorpe is important to them because they know how impactful an international experience can be. The fund is making this experience more accessible for students by helping to defray some of the costs associated with studying abroad.
“Our passion is to travel, and that has translated into study abroad,” says Misty. “But everyone has a passion for something — the arts, athletics, or a particular academic discipline. Anyone can find something here at Oglethorpe that aligns with their passion and can make an impact on one, or maybe many, students.”
Misty and Kyle are proud to support Oglethorpe and its students through this study abroad scholarship, and Misty hopes her fellow alumni will think about how they too can make an impact.
“Alumni giving is so important for the university, because it shows other funders that we are invested in Oglethorpe and committed to its success,” Misty says. “One doesn’t need to give a huge gift to make a big impact on a student’s life.”
Shae-Elise’s upcoming semester abroad is an example of the impact made by the Whitlocks’ generosity. An international studies major, she will be studying at Hanyang University in Seoul, South Korea, during the fall semester. This will be Shae-Elise’s first opportunity to travel internationally, to a place she has long been interested in visiting.
“I fell in love and connected with the Korean language back in middle school mainly because of how expressive and animated the language can be,” says Shae-Elise. “It was also very easy to learn about their writing system which made the process of starting my Korean language journey more enjoyable.”
While abroad, she’ll take several courses aligned with her major, learning about the fundamentals of international relations as well as strategic marketing domestically and internationally. She’ll be doing this while immersed in South Korean culture, a unique opportunity to apply what she’s learned on campus in a new context.
“The classes I’ve taken at Oglethorpe so far have set me up to communicate effectively in foreign settings in a variety of fields,” says Shae-Elise, as she prepares to embark on her semester abroad. “This experience will impact my confidence to know that I have the tools, both field-specific and soft skills, that are needed when I focus on my professional pursuits.”
It’s this kind of hands-on learning experience that has been at the core of the Oglethorpe experience for so many students. Misty says that she learned a great deal at Oglethorpe both inside and outside of the classroom as a student.
“I received so much personal attention, especially from professors. I really felt that the university provided opportunities tailored to my interests and invested in my growth,” she says.
This supportive community has continued to be part of Misty’s alumni experience, and she regularly attends alumni events on campus and participates in the alumni book clubs. She says that Oglethorpe has so many interesting, talented people who truly do make a difference, both in their communities and on a broader scale. Being able to connect and learn from them is just one of the many things that continue to bring meaning to her Oglethorpe experience.