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A Passage From India: Lessons From An International Student's Journey

Posted on July 28, 2014 4:49 pm by Lauren Kirkpatrick

Rajika Bhandari

Rajika Bhandari

Rajika Bhandari clearly remembers her first taste of the United States: a shrink-wrapped chocolate-chip cookie and a can of chilled Coke on an American Airlines flight to Raleigh, N.C.

The year was 1992, and Bhandari was one of 36,000 Indian students traveling to study in the United States. She recalls that flight as the beginning of an extraordinary journey, one that led to earning her doctoral degree in psychology from NC State’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Bhandari wrote a column about her experience, “A Passage From India: Lessons From An International Student’s Journey,” for the Chronicle of Higher Education. In it, she compares her experience with what students today might gain from international study.

And Bhandari is something of an expert on the topic. As deputy vice president for research and evaluation at the Institute of International Education, she leads the Open Doors and Project Atlas projects that measure international higher education mobility.

Here are excerpts from her column:

... As I look back on my first days and weeks in a foreign land, I truly hope that today’s international students are still getting the eye-opening experience I had.

As a young graduate student from India, attending North Carolina State University was as much an education in psychology (my chosen field of study) as it was a life lesson about cultural differences in how knowledge is imparted and acquired in the United States. I was encouraged to think much more critically than I had ever before, and was surprised that questioning your professor was actually a good thing and not seen as an affront as it would be in Indian universities (and I suspect in many other institutions and countries around the world). So while I balked when my American classmates casually referred to my adviser by his first name, I also sharpened my critical-thinking skills and felt an equal participant among my peers, men and women alike.

What immediately struck me also about the American system was its sheer fluidity and openness. Taking full advantage of its cross-disciplinary approach, I was able to move easily across different departments, selecting courses from psychology, statistics, sociology, and developmental economics to fashion a degree that would prepare me for a career in international work. This sort of flexibility is almost unheard of in many countries, or it is certainly rare in India where even today rigid curricula are a deterrent to many American students who would like to study there.

… My interactions with my American peers—and those from all over the world—challenged me to expand my worldview. In many ways, I was growing up and becoming an adult in the United States, being shaped by this country going forward as I had been by India for the first half of my life. As a student in the south I developed a much more nuanced understanding of black history and race relations in the United States. Through my Jewish American friends I learned about the full extent of the Holocaust, a subject that was covered cursorily in Indian history books back home. …

Bhandari says much has changed in global higher education in the two decades since she first came to the United States, including a surge in the number of students studying overseas and the rise of new technologies. She believes, however, that "the transformational power [of studying abroad] remains indisputable. Just ask the over 4.1 million students who are currently studying outside their home countries. For most young students, it represents an intellectual and cultural coming of age, a type of holistic education that might occur on the fringes of a formal degree but that is invaluable in shaping the mind, soul, and character of a student."

Read the full column and the Institute of International Education’s “Open Doors” report to learn more.

Conducting Defining Research: A Defining Experience for Undergrads

Posted on July 22, 2014 7:43 am by Lauren Kirkpatrick

Student researcher Ann Paschall works alongside Prof. Ann Ross.

Student researcher Anna Paschall works alongside Professor Ann Ross.

Creating new knowledge. It's one of the big benefits of studying at a research-intensive university like NC State. And conducting important research is not reserved for faculty and graduate students; we encourage undergrads to conduct research, too.

CHASS Associate Dean Vicki Gallagher has spearheaded our college’s drive to get more undergraduates involved with research. Students can propose research projects and work with faculty mentors, supported by small grants made possible through, among other sources, contributions to the NC State University Foundation. "These research projects give students hands-on mentoring in how to be a researcher," says Gallagher. "It's akin to an apprenticeship. And while the experience has a profound and lasting impact on the students, the resulting research produces new knowledge that is of value to others as well." Gallagher hopes to make funds available again this year.

In the video below, three students describe their projects: Daniel Gallagher (Communication, '13), worked alongside Assistant Professor of Communication Nicholas Taylor on a mixed methods analysis of the growth and development of the electronic sports scene globally, and at the hugely popular League of Legends game specifically. Kevin Farrow (English, '13) worked with Associate Professor of English Huiling Ding  to look at retracted publications in the field of engineering as a way to study misconduct such as plagiarism and falsification of evidence. Anna Paschall (Biological Sciences '16) was mentored by Professor of Anthropology Ann Ross as she investigated how to estimate the size of bullets from cranial gunshot wounds.

Want to support student research? You can make a life-changing experience possible for a student with your gift to the CHASS Enhancement Fund.

This video was produced by students in COM 437, Advanced Digital Video, in 2014.

Embracing Language Diversity at NC State

Posted on July 18, 2014 4:17 pm by Lauren Kirkpatrick

where are you from imageDiversity. The term encompasses much more than race or ethnicity. An accent that sounds "country" or a turn of phrase that seems foreign can lead to stereotyping that diminishes us all. “When we think about diversity in higher education,” says CHASS alum Stephany Dunstan (B.A. Spanish '06; M.A. English - Linguistics '08), “we don’t often think specifically about language or dialect, and unfortunately, there are a lot of stereotypes about language use and misinformation that can negatively impact our experiences.”

Dunstan has studied in depth the effects certain dialects can have, and NC State was her research arena. She recently completed her Ph.D. in Educational Research and Policy Analysis at NC State -- and won national honors for her dissertation, “The Influence of Speaking a Dialect of Appalachian English on the College Experience.”

Stephany Dunstan

Stephany Dunstan

"I was trying to understand how dialect as an element of diversity shapes students’ college experiences, particularly when the dialect is one that might stand out on campus," she says. The Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) awarded Dunstan one of its prestigious Dissertation of the Year awards.

Dunstan,who serves as NC State's assistant director in the Office of Assessment, continues her research.  But in true NC State "Think And Do" fashion, she is also taking action. She is working alongside professors Audrey Jaeger (College of Education) and Walt Wolfram (English) and with Danica Cullinan (English) on a project they call Educating the Educated: A University Wide Linguistic Diversity Initiative that's aimed at raising awareness and celebrating language diversity on campus.

You'll see some familiar faces -- hello, Chancellor Woodson and Dean Braden! -- in this vignette that celebrates the rich diversity of dialects that makes us NC State:



Staff Member Personifies Commitment to Serve

Posted on July 14, 2014 12:32 pm by Lauren Kirkpatrick

Claudia Kearney, MSW

Claudia Kearney

Claudia Kearney personifies NC State's commitment to serve. As a staff trainer for the college's Center for Family and Community Engagement, she provides outreach and training to all of North Carolina's 100 counties. When she's not traveling the state, she might be found developing training materials in collaboration with partners such as the NC Division of Social Services and UNC-Chapel Hill Jordan Institute.  She also represents the university and the center at national and international conferences and as a member of the Governor's Commission for Children with Special Health Care Needs.

Kearney is among five NC State staff members who have earned recognition for service from the university through the Awards for Excellence program. The winners were chosen from among 45 nominees from colleges and units across the NC State campus and will be considered for the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the fall.

"Claudia's outstanding training is helping service providers across North Carolina partner in new ways with the families they serve -- and in ways that keep the well-being of children at the very center of all they do," says Kara Allen-Eckard, CFFACE training coordinator. "She is not afraid to ask tough questions, to roll up her sleeves to work hard, and to speak up on behalf of families, children, and youth in everything she does. Whether she's developing curricula, providing training, or collaborating with community partners, Claudia stays focused on meeting the needs of North Carolina's families, children, and youth.”

CFFACE is a public service and research center at NC State that fosters collaborations between families, their communities, and the academic resources of the university.  In addition to providing training and technical assistance to its community partners, the center works with interdisciplinary partners on the local, national, and global levels to improve family and community health and well-being.



Four Join CHASS Advisory Board

Posted on July 11, 2014 7:39 am by Lauren Kirkpatrick

The College of Humanities and Social Sciences at NC State has welcomed four new members to its Board of Advisors. All are NC State alumni; three are alumni of CHASS. Through their involvement and engagement, the volunteer board members promote the welfare of the college through advocacy, fundraising and service. Members act as spokespersons for the role of the humanities and social sciences at NC State, and for the role of the college across the state and beyond.

Lee Garrett

Lee Garrett

Lee Garrett (B.S., Chemical Engineering, NC State; M.D., Medical University of South Carolina College of Medicine) is rejoining the board following a brief hiatus in service. After running a private nephrology practice in Raleigh for 20 years, Garrett is now a medical director with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina. Earlier in his career, he served for 20 years as a physician in the United States Air Force. Garrett has made time to serve on numerous Raleigh nonprofit boards.



Robert Rader

Robert Rader

Robert Rader (B.A., Political Science, NC State; J.D. Campbell University School of Law) serves as the Chief District Court Judge for the Tenth Judicial District, which encompasses all of Wake County. He has served as a district judge for the past 20 years, after practicing law with a private practice for eight years. Rader has served on the executive board of numerous professional and community organizations and is currently president elect of the Wake County Bar Association. His long volunteer record includes leading Yates Mill Associates for 18 years, which culminated in the creation of a 500-acre historic and environmental education park.


Jane Rogers (not pictured, B.A., English, NC State) is an entrepreneur with more than 35  years of leadership experience within the public and private sectors. She recently served as a consultant to improve train travel in North Carolina and to secure funding for rail corridor improvements. Her professional career is punctuated by development and fundraising within environmental and educational organizations in and out of North Carolina. She has also volunteered with such groups as NC State’s Center for Environmental Farming Systems, the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh Precinct 01-29, and Quail Ridge Books and Music .

Courtney Turlington

Courtney Turlington

Courtney Turlington (B.A., Psychology) worked with children with autism during and after college before going into her family-owned business, Pura Vida Promotions, Inc., where she serves as president. The Kernersville advertising specialties company provides creative marketing through promotional products. Turlington is involved with her local Kiwanis Club and other community-based organizations. She helped found Impact Triad, a nonprofit that provides free after-school care for at-risk Kernersville students.