The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy. (Photo by Christine Urio)

by Victoria Alario

NEWBURGH—Mount Saint Mary College’s (MSMC) Office of International Programs gives students the opportunity to expand their studies globally with programs in China, Italy, England, France, Spain, and other destinations of student interest.

Directed by Emily Marmo, the Office of International Programs offers a variety of time periods to study abroad including semester and year-long programs. MSMC also offers short-term programs during the summer and winter breaks. Students in these programs are given the chance to earn college credits around the world by taking classes in their specialty with MSMC professors as well as professors of the host country.

MSMC Study Abroad Coordinator Ashley Knox feels that gaining international experience before graduating allows students to develop meaningful life skills and academic strengths, as well as provide an opportunity for personal growth in preparation for a lifetime career.

“With the economy shifting, employers are looking for innovative, well-diverse young people with something new to enhance their company,” said Knox.

Students at MSMC are jumping at the opportunity to better their academic and global skills.

Junior Gina DeBenedetto studied with MSMC’s Study Abroad program in Florence.

“I feel that it changed me as a person for the better,” said DeBenedetto. “After my experience abroad, I feel more mature and independent. Experiencing a different culture really opened my eyes to the world around me.”

Sophomore Joe Gwillym studied in Paris with the program last summer.

“It gives you a useful reality check,” said Gwillym. “Doing my own laundry, spending my own money on food, clothes, and all of the necessary essentials that my parents usually supply for me, made me really understand what it’s going to be like when I’m out in the world on my own.”

Aside from all of the personal benefits, having a study abroad experience on one’s resume is a great advantage.

“Having this global experience benefits you in a way that makes you look attractive to employers, having a traditional degree attached with a global perspective,” said Knox. “It shows you have broadened your knowledge, gaining flexible skills, being more adaptable and culturally competent.”

According to Fortune 500, an annual list published by Fortune magazine that ranks the 500 largest companies supporting the global economy, employers are more likely to hire a college graduate with international skills and seek employees with that experience. Research shows that 75 percent of students say this experience influenced their career path and 60 percent find a job within three months of graduating.

Knox exemplifies both of those percentages. After studying abroad in the Dominican Republic, she was hired as a high school Spanish teacher within three months of her graduation.

Knox feels that though the students gain a lot of intelligence through their international courses, the experience of living in a different country and building rapport are important.

“Two thirds of your learning happens outside of the classroom,” said Knox. “Studying abroad gives you a new way of learning and broadening your horizons.”

To learn more about the Study Abroad programs, check out their website at, or email Emily Marmo, Director of International Programs, at