Mississippi College

MC School of Business Grant Gives Students International Perspective

November 14, 2007

Stops at the ancient Coliseum in Rome and the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican City are part of an upcoming tour of Italy for Dawn Holmes. The Brandon banker will also learn about Italy's business climate as part of her MBA studies with Mississippi College picking up much of the tab.

The one-week spring 2008 trip for Holmes, a vice president at Citizens National Bank, is made possible through a $168,000 federal grant to the MC School of Business. Visits to Rome, Florence, Milan and Venice are booked for her overseas tour. "It will be very enlightening," said the commercial lender, a 36-year-old working mom with two young children.

Funds from the U.S. Department of Education will open up study abroad opportunities to non-traditional adult students, internationalize the MC business curriculum and enhance faculty training. The dollars from the Washington agency fund 41 percent of the initiative. The grant will be boosted by $245,000 from MC and other non-government sources to supply the remaining 59 percent of project costs.

Recently selected for the trip abroad, Holmes and eight other MC students will first soak up knowledge about Europe in their classes on the MC campus from January through March. Their international business classes will focus on the European Union. Since World War II, Italy has seen considerable growth in industrial output and living standards, in part due to its membership in the European Union.

Another MBA student on track to graduate in May, Michael O'Bryan, 43, is also looking forward to learning about the Italian economy and seeing its major cities to broaden his international business understanding. "It's good to know," said the Brandon resident and director of operations with Creative Systems Consultants in Pearl. " It will help me in the future as I pursue career advancements," said O'Bryan, who received his bachelor's degree from MC in 1991.

Eyeing the Italian landscape and sizing up its culture will go beyond the latest textbooks and classroom lectures for MC students. Their scholarships will cover 90 percent of the $3,575 cost per student of the trip, including airfare, hotels, meals, and tours. A faculty member will join them on the journey. Said Marcelo Eduardo, the MC business dean: "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our students."

The federal grant, he said, is a big plus as MC seeks to improve its Accelerated Degree Program and courses for students studying for the MBA during evening hours on the Clinton campus.

An experienced traveler around the United States, and Mexico, Holmes is making her first trip to Europe . She expects her Italian tour will broaden her knowledge of the nation's markets, monetary system and its economy, from tourism to textiles. The Mississippian hopes to complete her MBA studies in Spring 2009.

A 2002 Belhaven College graduate with a bachelor's in management, Holmes received her master of communication degree from MC in 2005. The Byram native is balancing life as a banker with kids as she finishes her second MC degree.

Once the students return to the MC campus, they will write papers about their experiences in the mostly mountainous country, home to 58 million people.

The U.S. Department of Education grant is serving other purposes for Mississippi College. It will allow the MC School of Business to partner with the Mississippi Development Authority, the Mississippi World Trade Center and the Mississippi Manufacturers Association. It will help MC and the other partners to offer more programs to increase awareness of export opportunities within the service sector of the Mississippi economy.

PHOTO: Dawn Holmes, vice president with Citizens National Bank in Brandon.

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