Letter to the editor: International degree fundamental part of Oregon State University experience

Annette McFarland

The International Degree was not only an important part of my undergraduate experience at Oregon State, but also set me down a path of international work that I’ve been on ever since.

For my thesis, which counted doubly for the International Degree and Honors College requirements, I wrote and administered a survey to high school students in Oregon and Chile, where I studied abroad in the fall of 2007 (for my second time; I first studied abroad in the fall of 2005 to Angers, France).

I look back on my undergraduate thesis sometimes and shake my head at how amateur it seems to me now, but I am also so grateful I had the opportunity to conduct international research as an undergraduate student. I’m grateful to the advisors in OSU’s International Programs office, who encouraged me in any research ideas I cooked up, no matter how hare-brained.

Advisors in the Honors College and my thesis advisor in the English Department, Dr. Laura Rice, were profoundly positive, pushing me to produce a thesis I was and still am proud of. That experience, of thinking up a research question, getting Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval, and conducting international research cemented a deep interest in international affairs, and definitely opened doors to more international opportunities.

After graduating from Oregon State in 2008 with degrees in English and French, in addition to the International Degree, I moved to France for a year to teach English to primary students in the French Ministry of Education’s assistante program. After that, I applied to the Peace Corps and served 6 months in Niger (before getting evacuated by Al Qaeda of the Islamic Maghreb) and a year and a half in Malawi. I earned a Master’s degree in Global Human Development from Georgetown University in May 2015 and I’m currently working as a Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist for a small NGO (Just Like My Child Foundation), based in Luwero, Uganda (#ugandadecides think of us and pray for peace). In my work now as a Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist, I regularly design and administer surveys to qualitatively and quantitatively assess the impact of programs and projects. My International Degree thesis paved the way for this work.

As a senior in high school, I chose to stay in-state to go to OSU, which may have seemed like a limiting option but actually opened so many more doors than if I had gone anywhere else. Because OSU was more affordable than any of the other universities I applied to, I was able to take summer classes and 2 extra terms to receive 3 degrees, including the International Degree. I studied abroad twice, and as a result of all this, I now work as an international development professional. A global perspective is an essential asset that OSU needs to continue offering to all its students, now more than ever. I am proud to be an alum of the International Degree program at OSU and OSU should be proud to offer such a unique and important program.

Annette McFarland

OSU Alumna, Class of 2008

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