“Studying abroad is such an amazing opportunity, and Lamar makes it so easy. There are no excuses not to go!” said Kirby Clayton, a sophomore majoring in mechanical engineering and minoring in mathematics at Lamar University.

The 20-year-old Orange native says she is a travel enthusiast and can’t turn down a new expedition. When she heard about the Study Abroad Office’s recently established bilateral exchange program allowing engineering students to study at Seoul Tech, she saw it as an adventure that aligned perfectly with her future plans.

“I have always dreamed of working internationally and traveling. In a few years, I see myself residing in some other part of the world, bringing technology to other areas and helping them develop the industry,” she said.

Lamar University has received students from Seoul Tech since 2012, but it wasn’t until 2015 under the efforts of Tae Hoon Kim, adjunct professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering, and the Study Abroad Office that the program became reciprocal. This year, two engineering students from Seoul Tech are studying at Lamar, and Clayton, abroad for the Spring 2016 semester, is the second LU student to study at the South Korean university.

“We saw the need to offer engineering courses abroad. Couple that with the excellent standard of higher education in South Korea and the strong student services offered at Seoul Tech, and establishing a true bilateral exchange agreement was an obvious move,” said Brittney Crossley, study abroad coordinator, who studied in Seoul as a graduate student.

The Office of Study Abroad has a mission to offer students from a variety of majors study abroad options in as many different countries as possible. It currently has 3 bilateral exchange partners, 17 faculty-led programs, and various partner universities that collaborate with LU towards international projects, such as the Universidad Veracruzana in Mexico and Chungnam National University in Korea. More than 180 Lamar students will study abroad during this academic year.

Clayton says she feels grateful to Lamar University for the opportunities it has afforded her. She originally came to LU because she was awarded the Mirabeau Presidential Scholarship, a “full” scholarship valued at $80,000 over 4 years. Now, she says she’s passionate about the university and recommends LU to “anyone who will listen.”

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“I love all my professors, my classes and my organizations. I wouldn’t have the opportunities for research, co-op or study abroad that Lamar offers me anywhere else,” Clayton said.

The sophomore is enjoying her education in mechanical engineering and feels confident that the major is a good fit. After graduating with her bachelor’s degree in May 2018, she plans to attend graduate school to study robotics.

“I feel like I have grown a lot throughout college. I’m more open-minded and independent, and I feel more myself now than I ever have before. I am proud of my success in engineering and the efforts I made to earn my 4.0 GPA,” she said.

Clayton is a Lamar University Ambassador and an ambassador for the College of Engineering. She is a member of the Honors Student Association, the Honors College, the Society of Women Engineers and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Clayton has worked for various offices in the engineering college and is currently assisting Weihang Zhu, associate professor and graduate advisor for the Department of Industrial Engineering, with the SCOPE project— studies on how Scholarships, Career Mentoring, Outreach and Advisement, Professional Societies and Engineering Learning Community (SCOPE) can be used to improve the quality of education for underserved populations.

Clayton likes to encourage others to join LU and to make the most of all the opportunities available, and she enjoys helping her peers.

“I am an open book, and love sharing my experiences!” she said.

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