August 28, 2017

Laurel Schafer sees integrative learning as a path to career success and so far, it is paying off for her. The senior history major was recently awarded a Quality Enhancement Plan’s What’s Next: Integrative Learning Scholarship.

The scholarship encourages students to explore opportunities to build real-world experience outside of the classroom that will connect to their coursework and to their future goals. Conducting out-of-class research and working on projects with professors are some examples of integrative learning. Schafer’s summer trip to Armenia demonstrated excellence in integrative learning and ultimately scored her the scholarship.

“I’m very grateful for being chosen for the scholarship that will help me pay for my next and final semester,” she said. “Both the scholarship and my integrative learning will help me apply what I’ve learned in the classroom to real life situations – which is the true purpose of college.”

In June, Schafer was one of the four students who traveled to Armenia for a three-week project called Vayots-Dzor Fortress Landscape with assistant professor of history, Dr. Tiffany Earley-Spadoni. During the trip, Schafer studied parts of the Silk Road, which is an ancient network of trade routes that were central to cultural interaction for centuries in regions of Eurasia. Between discovering ancient sites and encountering a rare bear on the path, Schafer’s experience abroad was educational and legendary.

“Traveling on the Silk Road and discovering ancient fortresses was amazing,” she said. “We had the privilege of photographing and archiving areas of the path that told a story.”

Schafer’s advice to students who are interested in having an integrated learning experience is simple:

“Talk to your professors,” she advised. “Before you know it, you’ll see opportunities open up that will help in networking, integrating your academic career, and achieving your goals.”