Campus Life

UWF students selected to participate in immersive study abroad experience in Japan

The University of West Florida College of Professional Studies Emerge Program recently selected 15 students to participate in a college-wide, interdisciplinary study abroad opportunity in Japan in May 2014.

The Japan Study Abroad Program is hosted in collaboration with the Jikei Group of Colleges and led by Paula Rappe, assistant professor of social work, and Dr. Kimberly Tatum, associate dean of the College of Professional Studies and associate professor of legal studies. It emphasizes the development of 21st Century skills related to career development, such as global awareness, initiative and self-direction, flexibility and adaptability, social and cross-cultural skills, critical thinking and problem solving.

The unique program counts as a three-credit-hour elective course that spans the 2014 Spring and Summer semesters, consisting of pre-departure learning activities, the study abroad experience and post-trip reflections. During the trip, students will participate in cultural and educational excursions, interact with Japanese students and take part in a community service project. Once they return, they will collaborate to compile a multimedia presentation that can be presented to various audiences, including the annual U.S.-Japan Social Welfare Symposium that is held each fall.

The program is offered to undergraduate and graduate students majoring or minoring in any program within the College of Professional Studies. Students were chosen following a competitive application process led by Rappe, Tatum and Chelsea Boling, the Emerge Program Coordinator. For the inaugural trip, 32 students were selected for interviews from an applicant pool of more than 50.  Of the 32 students interviewed, the following 15 finalists were chosen:

  • Chandler Carney, Legal Studies, Undergraduate
  • Sarah Olive-Smith, Legal Studies, Undergraduate
  • Teresa Wright, Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Undergraduate
  • Erica Anderson, Education, Graduate
  • Megan McClinnis, Education, Undergraduate
  • Sharee Rosado, Education, Undergraduate
  • Dianne Hall, Social Work, Undergraduate
  • Michelle Mackin, Social Work, Undergraduate
  • Levi Lewis, Social Work, Undergraduate
  • Dominique Maywald, Social Work, Undergraduate
  • Victoria Valladares, Social Work, Undergraduate
  • Hannah Simmerly, Social Work, Undergraduate
  • Heisirys Ramirez, Social Work, Undergraduate
  • Erin Haslag, Social Work, Graduate
  • Dannette Wallace, Social Work, Graduate

The program is part of the Emerge Initiative, which was developed earlier this year by Dr. Stacie Whinnery, interim dean of the College of Professional Studies, to help faculty within the College of Professional Studies design and utilize high impact practices that deepen student learning and engagement. By using a combination of techniques, HIPs raise levels of performance, retention and success for all students.

The Japan Study Abroad Program emphasizes the high impact practice of service learning, giving students direct experience with issues they study in a curriculum and allowing them to apply what they learn in real-world settings before reflecting on their experience in a classroom setting. It also allows students to explore different cultures, life experiences and worldviews through diversity and global learning. The Japan Study Abroad Program is funded by a Pace Academic Development Grant from the Office of the Provost, Dr. Martha Saunders.

For additional information about the Japan Study Abroad Program and Emerge, visit