FVSU Student Studies Organic Chemistry in International Classroom

Posted on Jun 15, 2023

Jaiden Williams, a first-generation college student, participated in a summer study abroad program. The Senior Biology major from Moultrie, Georgia, lived in Paris, France, for a month to study organic chemistry.

Williams is graduating in Fall 2023. She knew she wanted to study abroad after attending events hosted by the Office of Global Studies and Engagement. In Spring 2022, The Passport Caravan event provided students with free US passports through grant funding. This program assisted more than 30 FVSU students in receiving passports. With encouragement from Rayton Sianjina, Ph.D., Program Director of Global Studies and Engagement, Williams attended International Education Week, Study Abroad Fair, and Gilman Advising sessions.

She is a recipient of the summer 2023 Benjamin A. Gilman scholarship. Funding through the scholarship covered her tuition and fees, travel expenses, books, insurance, and meals. Williams worked closely with the Office of Global Studies and Engagement at FVSU to prepare her application materials and find a study-abroad program appropriate for her degree.

As FVSU works to start its study-abroad programs, the University works closely with Albany State University and encourages students to experience international learning. She enrolled at Albany State University as a transient student for the course. Because study abroad programs are faculty-led, faculty members manage coursework and program logistics like travel schedules and accommodations. Ghislain Mandouma, Ph.D., an organic chemistry professor at Albany State University, led Williams and one other classmate.

She encourages other students to study abroad, stating, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Williams says studying abroad has many benefits and doesn’t want fellow students to miss the academic opportunity. She feels she is a better student and can now assist her classmates. Organic chemistry is not known for being easy, but Williams feels the student-professor ratio made grasping the subject much easier.

“This experience has allowed me to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. I needed something to force me out of what I’m used to, and studying abroad did that for me. I am a better studier. I am more adaptable. When you must study on a train because you don’t know when the next class or pop quiz will be, you get creative,” says Williams.

She is familiar with international travel. Her father served in the US Marines, and her family lived in Japan for two years. She has always wanted to travel more internationally, and her study-abroad trip was just the beginning. When she wasn’t in class, Williams immersed herself in French culture. She practiced the French language, ate French cuisine, learned about the education system, experienced customs, and visited sites, landmarks, and museums. Her favorite part of studying abroad was meeting locals and sharing music and stories.

Bryan Johnson, program specialist in the Office of Global Studies and Engagement, says, “Students who participate in study-abroad programs are more likely to graduate and more likely to graduate on time.” Most study-abroad programs are offered during the summer and can be an accelerated path to graduation. Study-abroad programs allow students to learn in more interesting and hands-on environments.

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