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Palo Alto College offers learning outside the classroom

By Chelsy McDaniel | Pulse Staff Reporter

News Gathering and Writing II class in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Palo Alto College is taking learning out of the classroom and into Washington, D.C., New York City and Europe.

Lillian Ross, Public Relations major, was one of 14 students who took Dr. Denise Barkis Richter’s News Gathering and Writing II course during Maymester. The class lasted three weeks with 10 of those days divided between Washington, D.C., and New York City. The overall cost was $1,500, and students received a $500 scholarship from Student Activities. Each day the students followed an itinerary where they studied America’s history and reported what they learned via Twitter.

The Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial were two of Ross’ favorite memories of the trip. She loves history, so for her, it was a very emotional experience.

“We were just walking around the Vietnam Veterans monument at night, and someone began playing taps,” said Ross. “Everyone was silent, and tears were rolling down people’s faces."

The class also visited the Newseum, an interactive museum of news and journalism. Things began to click for Ross and some of the other students. As she was walking around the museum, she realized she had picked the right major.

“You see how news reporting and stories you write, the words you put in those stories, captivate the people and make it history,” said Ross.

The trip to New York City and Washington, D.C., is something that Ross will always remember. In fact, she is already planning a trip back to D.C. with her husband and kids. She believes this was an opportunity of a lifetime, and she recommends that students take advantage of these non-traditional courses.

Laura De Leon, a Journalism major, was another student in the class. She, too, thought the trip was quite an experience. Visiting the Newseum brought back her passion for journalism.

“I honestly feel like I came back a better reporter,” said De Leon. “Getting out of San Antonio in a journalism mindset made me realize what all there is to do in the field.”

For De Leon, New York is one of her favorite cities. During their trip to N.Y.C., they were able to take the ferry to Staten Island and see the Statue of Liberty, take the subway, have lunch in Chinatown, experience Times Square, see a Broadway show, walk down Fifth Avenue, visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art, stroll through Central Park, attend a ballet at Lincoln Center and much more.

“The group was very diverse and a lot of fun,” she said. “I definitely made a few lifelong friends.”

The News Gathering and Writing class wrote blog posts about their experiences in Washington, D.C., and New York City. They also used the hashtag #dcnyc on Twitter to file reports throughout their 10 days away from San Antonio.

Palo Alto College also offered students the opportunity to study Chemistry in Europe. Savanah Ruiz, a sophomore International Business major, was one of six students who attended Professors Stamatis W. Muratidis and Deborah Dixon’s class. The course was in June and lasted five weeks, with two of the weeks spent traveling in Germany, France and Switzerland. The overall cost of the class was around $5,000.

The Chemistry and Biology study abroad group in Geneva, Switzerland.

Over the course of their trip, the students visited the Council of Europe, the European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines, and Heidelberg University, one of the top-ranked institutions in the world for international science and scholarships.

Ruiz believes studying abroad is by far the most memorable moment of her college experience.

“You don’t sit at a desk all day listening to a professor talk the whole time,” said Ruiz.

The experience was more than she expected, and she believes every college student should have the opportunity to study abroad.

Margarita Guajardo, Biology major, also attended the trip to Europe. Her most memorable moment was when the class visited CERN, an international organization whose purpose is to operate the world’s largest particle physics laboratory.

She believes the trip helped her understand what science is and can be. “Studying abroad can really help you have a better appreciation for your major,” said Guajardo.

In France, the students stayed in a chateau near the city of Strasbourg. There, they met other students studying abroad. One of the days the class road bikes into the city and visited the cathedral.

Guajardo said, “This was a life-changing experience, and I cannot wait to do another study abroad.”