Jessica Patrick, a Hope College senior from Midland who spent last spring studying in Aberdeen, Scotland, is one of only 34 students nationwide named a Student Ambassador by the British Council USA to help promote study-abroad experiences in the United Kingdom.
The council established the Student Ambassador Program to involve students who have recently studied at a British university in study-abroad activities at their U.S. college or university. In conjunction with her appointment, for example, Patrick will participate in the college's "study-abroad fair" this month for students considering overseas study and in November will participate in a question-and-answer panel concerning study in the United Kingdom.
In selecting Student Ambassadors, the British Council USA looked for a solid recommendation from the students' study-abroad or academic advisors, and a demonstrated sense of maturity and responsibility, as well as enthusiasm for the United Kingdom and their overseas study experience.
Strong word of mouth had helped draw Patrick to study at the University of Aberdeen. "I talked to a number of people who had gone and absolutely loved it," she said.
She noted that given its storied past, Scotland was a good fit for her as a history major planning to teach high school. As a crucial added benefit, the program itself was able to help her determine well in advance ways in which coursework at the University of Aberdeen could meet the requirements of her academic program at Hope.
Patrick is glad that she heeded others' advice to go abroad for an extended time as a student because once out of school and employed full-time she might not get the chance. In addition to lessons of history and culture, she also learned more about her own ability to chart a course and see it through, both literally and figuratively.
"Over my spring break I traveled all over Europe, and while doing so I had a huge revelation. I realized that I could go anywhere and do anything that I wanted to," she said. "Now I feel I am much more confident in decisions about my future. I really want to share my experiences so that other students will take advantage of this wonderful opportunity."
Patrick's activities as a student have also included the Phi Alpha Theta history honorary society and the Pew Society. She has also been named to the Dean's List. She is a 2000 graduate of Midland High School, and the daughter of Don and Paula Patrick of Midland.
The Student Ambassador program first ran as a pilot in 2002, with five students participating. This year's 34 participants are from 30 universities and colleges across the United States, and as a group reflect study in every country in the United Kingdom. A total of 21 Student Ambassadors studied in England, eight studied in Scotland, four in Wales and one in Northern Ireland.
The British Council USA is the Cultural Department of the British Embassy in Washington, D.C. The British Council, a registered charity in England and Wales, is the UK's international organization for educational opportunities and cultural relations, and is represented in 110 countries worldwide.