Graduating Senior Reflects on Time Abroad and More

Alia Jones is a Citizen Scholar majoring in Humanities-Prelaw with a minor in African American and African Studies and will graduate this spring. During her time at MSU, she has had many impactful experiences, including an internship abroad and a service-learning study abroad. Read about these experiences and more as well as the advice she shares with other MSU students in this Q&A:

Why did you join Citizen Scholars? 
Citizen Scholars sent me a pamphlet in the mail my senior year and, honestly, the thought of coming to campus and actually being a part of something was extremely exciting. I joined Citizen Scholars to enhance my overall experience at MSU, and I can confidently say the CS program did that and more.

How has Citizen Scholars enhanced your MSU education? 
CS has enhanced my education by learning outside of the classroom – whether that be through cross-cultural interaction, civic engagement, and critical discussions and then making it applicable to both local and global communities. 

What has been the most impactful part of the Citizen Scholars program? 
The most impactful part of the Citizen Scholars program is getting to experience and explore the things of this world while still in college and being prepared to step out of undergrad as a fully formed scholar who is confident in their abilities to make this world a better place.

Did you use the Citizen Scholar funding?  
I used the funding for my internship abroad to Sydney, Australia, during Summer 2019. The funding truly took a tremendous burden off me and my family. Instead of having to think about finances, it allowed me to focus my full attention towards my internship and learning experiences. I worked as a Digital Marketing Coordinator for 3M Australia and it was incredible to experience both a new culture and new work environment (corporate setting) simultaneously. (Read more about Alia’s internship in Australia.) 

Do you participate in any other study abroad/study away experiences?
In addition to my internship in Australia, I also spent a week in San Ignacio, Belize, for a service-learning study abroad. I volunteered in a 5th grade classroom and assisted the teacher in any capacity – whether it was grading worksheets, reading to the students, or even teaching a lesson. It was an extremely rewarding and eye-opening experience, because in contrast to my time in Sydney, Belize is still a developing nation that recently gained independence. I was immersed fully within Belizean culture and was faced with a lot of the things I have taken for granted throughout my lifetime. I returned with a better sense of self and gratitude for my access to education and opportunities. 

What other internships and jobs have you had during your time at MSU?
MSU Tour Guide, MSU Tours Student Supervisor, Resident Assistant, Communications Intern for MSU Human Resources, Student Ambassador Intern for the Citizen Scholars Program

How has COVID affected your college experience? 
I feel extremely blessed that I have had minimal impacts on my education and college experience due to COVID. I made the most out of my experience leading up to this point, and I feel peace knowing that nothing has the ability to erase all my hard work and accomplishments these past four years.

What are your plans post-graduation? 
I am currently seeking out my next adventure! I look forward to continuing to fulfill my purpose by serving in any capacity.

How do you think Citizen Scholars will help you in your career? 
Through all the transformative and immersive experiences in the CS program, I am confident in my ability to excel and thrive in any environment. I know that wherever my career path leads, I possess a global mindset that allows me to identify opportunities for growth and then empowers me to implement the necessary changes. Additionally, the CS focus of collaboration and civic engagement has equipped me with the skills to work efficiently and effectively alongside my colleagues and peers.

Do you have any advice for people who want to go down a similar career path as you? 
While I am not entirely sure what my career path looks like yet, I have advice for anyone who wants to make the most out of their time and experience at MSU. Be engaged, be open, and be teachable. I am leaving my college experience knowing that I made the most out of every opportunity because I didn’t shy away from new experiences and I was always willing and eager to learn something new. Take advantage of every single resource and opportunity through MSU and CAL. Through my involvement with the CS program, I discovered all the learning opportunities that took place outside the classroom and pursued them wholeheartedly! I had a newfound appreciation for life and all its experiences, and I encourage any and everyone to do things you’ve never done and go places you’ve never gone. It is never too late to start something new!

Do you have any parting words you’d like to share with the university? 
Thank you to Michigan State University and the College of Arts & Letters for making my college experience more than schooling. The whole trajectory of my life is now forever changed as I am propelled into the highest standard of excellence and achievement. I walk in confidence knowing that my Spartan experience has equipped me with the necessary skills to make meaningful contributions to both the local and global community. Spartans Will change the world for the better. I am forever a Spartan.