Mexico Inspires Eight Islander Honors Students During Study Abroad Experience

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas –Eight Island University Honors Program students spent a part of their summer walking the wide cobblestone streets of historic San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, awed by the beautiful landscape surrounding them. The small town – a seamless marriage of natural foliage and man-made architecture – welcomed them with unexplored streets, friendly locals and vendors selling local crafts.

It was the perfect first-taste of Mexico.

“The whole experience was amazing and life-changing, and I would do it again in a heartbeat,” said Helen Gonzales, a junior pre-nursing major and one of the students who attended the trip. “I learned so much about Mexico as a culture and country – from the people to the art and history and politics.”

This eye-opening and transformative experience was the first time an all Honors Program cohort had the opportunity to study abroad since Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi established the program in 2005. Beginning June 4, Islanders explored San Miguel and its surrounding areas – from the colonial style city of Guanajuato to the ruins of Teotihuacán – they immersed themselves in Mexico’s culture, history and art.

“A lecture or book cannot communicate the depth of real-world experiences,” said Dr. Susan Wolff Murphy, associate professor of English, associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and one of the professors who accompanied the students on their trip. “This is particularly important for Honors students as it fundamentally improves their undergraduate experience by expanding their perspectives and giving them the opportunity to place themselves and their education within a global context.”

For Taelor Thomas, a senior health science major, the study abroad experience was more than just a fun trip.

“There’s a lot of things you can learn about yourself and your own culture when you explore other countries,” said Thomas. “The history, art and customs of Mexico were all amazing. I took so much away from this but, more than anything, I discovered more about who I am.”

Not only was this academic excursion a new milestone for the eight students who attended, some of whom even experienced flying in an airplane for the first time, but it also reflects the new direction of the Honors Program – one that endeavors to give students a private university experience at a public university price.

“Our moral and financial charge as a university is to serve a region traditionally underserved by higher education,” shared Dr. Joshua Ozymy, professor and director of the Honors Program. “Many of our students are exceptionally bright and we owe it to them to broaden their educational experience by investing in wonderful opportunities like study abroad.”