Expand Your Horizons Fair offers resources for BGSU students
Curated, interactive, experiential opportunities offered now through spring semester
By Pete Fairbairn
Bowling Green State University believes its students should be empowered to design a college experience that fully aligns with their purpose and passion. The BG experience extends beyond the classroom with many exciting opportunities to integrate coursework with real-world experiences that allow the individual to design a richer, more rewarding time at BGSU.
This year’s virtual Expand Your Horizons Fair is a powerful one-stop shop, bringing together myriad resources that will help students incorporate one or multiple experiential learning opportunities. The virtual event debuts Monday, Feb. 15 and is featured throughout spring semester. Students can get help preparing for future careers, becoming more competitive in the job market and gaining important life experience. The event lets students get connected to opportunities and people dedicated to supporting their journey in the following areas:
- Internships, co-ops and practica
- Education Abroad
- Undergraduate research, scholarly and creative projects with faculty mentors
- Learning Communities
- Community-based learning courses and volunteer opportunities
This year is different
The Expand Your Horizons Fair is an annual event that is typically held in mid-September in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union Ballroom. The in-person fairs bring together over 100 exhibitors representing on- and off-campus experiential learning opportunities.
This year, Expand Your Horizons is a curated, interactive, experiential resource designed to bring students everything they need to connect with a wide range of exciting opportunities. While we continue to face the challenges of a worldwide pandemic, experiential learning also continues. Be sure to check out the Experiential Learning Panel to hear from staff members from five different experiential learning units on campus about the benefits and opportunities for experiential learning at BGSU.
Five offices offer experiential learning opportunities
The Career Center provides a variety of programs, workshops, courses and employment opportunities for BGSU students and alumni to attain individual career and life goals. In the past academic year, the center hosted over 24,000 student and alumni virtual and in-person interactions and offered nearly 350 events and workshops.
“It’s critically important for graduating seniors and current students to network as much as possible during the challenging and uncertain times we are experiencing, said Andrea Gutierrez, assistant director of the Career Center. “Although most networking is being conducted virtually, attending virtual internship and job fairs, employer spotlights and workshops, and connecting with alumni and recruiters on platforms, such as Handshake and LinkedIn, can dramatically increase the likelihood of landing a job or internship.”
The decision to participate in an Education Abroad experience is often the most transforming and inspiring aspect of a student's academic career. Global opportunities — both virtual and in-person — are available in over 40 countries. Students may select from over 500 programs and participate from a week up to an academic year. Some find it surprising that no foreign language experience is necessary. Additional international experiential learning opportunities, such as an internship, community engagement or undergraduate research project, or a teaching position, are also possible.
"Set yourself apart by gaining a global experience,” is the challenge raised for students by Michelle Ploeger, coordinator of Education Abroad and Fulbright Scholar Liaison and Student Program advisor, International Programs and Partnerships. “There are many benefits to participating in an education abroad experience — personally, academically, and professionally — that will last a lifetime.”
The Center for Undergraduate Research and Scholarship (CURS) provides several grant opportunities for undergraduate students to fund research, scholarly and creative projects under the guidance of a faculty mentor. Projects from any discipline of field are welcome and can be conducted individually or in small groups. Students may apply for these grants prior to the start of the semester during which they would like to conduct the project. Three large symposia, which are organized by CURS throughout the year, provide an opportunity for undergraduate students from any discipline (with or without CURS funding) to present their projects to the BGSU community and wider public.
“If you participate in a research, scholarly, or creative project with a faculty mentor you get hands-on experience in your chosen disciplines,” said Dr. Cordula Mora, director, Center for Undergraduate Research and Scholarship. “This will give you a competitive leg up in the job market or when applying for graduate school.”
BGSU began intentionally building Learning Communities in 1997 with the Chapman Community. Since that time, the University’s network has expanded to more than 20 communities, which help students merge their living and their learning experiences. In many ways, students who join learning communities are actively doing their education — in their residence hall rooms, their classrooms, on service sites and during community events, together— not passively receiving it.
“It's so important for students, especially during their first and second years at BGSU, to find others who share their interests; to be mentored by student-centered faculty, staff, and student leaders; and to experience a variety of classroom, service site, and community building events,” said Dr. Brett Holden, coordinator of BGSU Learning Communities, and director of the Chapman community. “This results in better persistence and retention and grades. Just as important, it results in community members forming life-long friendships that will see them through many of life's challenging times.”
The Center for Public Impact has responsibility for community-based learning (also known as service-learning), which combines academic inquiry, practical experience, civic engagement and intentional reflection to deepen learning and contribute to community-identified needs. A community-based learning experience can be course-based or co-curricular, and provides an opportunity for students, faculty members and community partners to engage in organized service or community activities. Participants reflect on their service to gain a deeper understanding of curricular content, as well as enhance their sense of personal values and civic responsibility.
“Many students have discovered or reinforced their passions through community-based learning,” said Paul Valdez, associate director, BGSU Center for Public Impact. “These experiences develop important networks to help with our students’ career paths and future community involvement.”
Use experiential learning to realize your purpose and passion
This year’s Expand Your Horizons virtual experience has brought together these five offices to empower our students with all the resources needed to optimize their Bowling Green State University experience.