Students to attend grad school in Europe, Africa

04/18/08

The desire for an international experience and a master's degree are being combined into one goal achieved by three Baker students.

Seniors Margaret Kisner, Kim Kilmartin and Mark Kabbany have found graduate programs that match their areas of academic interests outside the United States.

"It's internationalism," said Kilmartin, who was accepted to the University of Oxford in England. "I'm learning history, but I'll be learning cultural stuff too. As an international studies major, that's cool."

Kilmartin is also a French and history major. She will be entering a one-year program to earn her master's degree in medieval history. Kilmartin said even though she was also accepted to Cardiff University in Wales, Oxford was her dream school.

"It was the top choice," she said. "I also realized that it wasn't that realistic. I kept it in the back of my mind that I wasn't going."

Kilmartin was drawn to Oxford because of its history program, but Kisner gravitated to the University of Edinburgh in Scotland because of its location. After spending a semester as an undergraduate at Edinburgh's Napier University, Kisner knew she wanted to go back.

"When I got back from Scotland (my parents) knew I was going back," Kisner said. "They saw a change in me. I was much happier and more confident in myself."

More than just the city, Kisner said Edinburgh would be an opportune place to study Irish politics and nationalism.

"Nationalism is a relatively new idea," she said. "Why are the Scots, Scots? What makes somebody who they are? The (United Kingdom) is a good opportunity to study that."

Location was also key for Kabbany when he chose the American University of Cairo because he wanted a degree in Middle Eastern studies.

"It's an influential part of the world," Kabbany said.

While Kilmartin and Kisner will be experiencing different dialects of English, Kabbany will be faced with a dialect of Arabic different from the Lebanese version he knows. Even though he has spent most of his life in the United States, Kabbany said he loves the Arabic culture.

"Egypt is a way different country from where I'm from," he said. "In the end, I guess that fact that I'm Lebanese influenced my choice."

While Kabbany's country of birth played a small role in his graduate school choice, Kisner's long-distance relationship affected hers. Kisner's boyfriend attends Napier University in Edinburgh.

"If I said he didn't play a role in it, it would be a blatant lie," she said. "If it falls through the cracks while I'm there, that's what happens. At the end of the day, I'm some place I love doing what I enjoy. I fell in love with the two at about the same time."

Kisner expects a degree from a foreign institution to increase her viability in the job market if she chooses to come back to the United States. A Scottish degree will grant her a two-year work visa in the United Kingdom.

"I'm really thinking that it will put me at an advantage because we don't work in a single nation society anymore," Kisner said. "Businesses interact with each other across the world."

Kilmartin said an Oxford degree would open the door to whatever university she chooses to earn her doctoral degree.

"The school has an extremely prestigious and well-known history program," she said. "It was an attempt to try for the hardest possible goal, like trying for Harvard Law but not expecting to get in. I'll get the best training in the world."

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