University System honors Vickers

Published 7:56 pm Tuesday, October 26, 2010

BAINBRIDGE COLLEGE STUDENTS pause in a London park near where they studied at the University College of London. From the left, are Danielle Richmond of Thomasville, Sean Perry of Decatur County, Shaquera Moore of Donalsonville, award-winner Meghan Vickers of Bainbridge, Caprice Kelly of Cairo, Lavencia Wingate of Meigs, April DeRocco of Donalsonville and Alexandra Casteel of Bainbridge.

As Bainbridge College student Meghan Vickers continued studies after five weeks in London with seven BC classmates, she received word that she was selected from among more than 200 students for the Charlie Crouch Award for Outstanding Study Abroad student from the University System of Georgia’s (USG) European Council.

It was almost as big a thrill as her meeting Hollywood idol Leonardo DiCaprio in London during the summer study opportunity offered through the USG European Council, a cooperative of USG colleges and universities.

“The award is quite the honor,” said Dave Nelson, BC history professor who led the group and taught in the London program this summer.

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“The award is given to one student each year in recognition of academic achievements, energy and enthusiasm while studying abroad,” said Nelson, who is co-coordinator of the BC International Education Program. “It’s also quite the validation for Bainbridge College,” he added, noting that some university professors’ expectations for two-year college students are lower than for students at four-year institutions.

“Not only was it a great moment for BC, but also for two-year schools in general,” he said of the positive reactions to the award announcement.

“This award for Meghan demonstrates something that the faculty and staff at Bainbridge College already realize—our students can stand up academically alongside university students. I only wish all of our students who studied in London could have won. They deserved it.”

Those students included Alexandra Casteel of Bainbridge, April DeRocco of Donalsonville, Caprice Kelly of Cairo, Shaquera Moore of Donalsonville, Sean Perry of Decatur County, Danielle Richmond of Thomasville and Lavencia Wingate of Meigs.

As Nelson said in a message to BC colleagues while in London, “The students have performed spectacularly. I have received so many compliments about them. I can personally vouch for the fact that many of our students were better prepared not only for traveling and surviving in London, but also for the classroom than many of those from the larger schools, including juniors and seniors. And that’s of course a reflection on all of you.”

The students took as many as two college courses while studying at the University College of London in central London. The courses included U.S. history, environmental history, art appreciation, British literature, world literature, theater appreciation and psychology.

Students attended lectures two days a week, had field trips two days per week and enjoyed the other three days on their own. BC students filled their weekends with a variety of excursions, including the film premiere that led to their encounter with DiCaprio.

While Vickers and several BC classmates enjoyed attending the world premiere of Inception, she fulfilled her dream to meet DiCaprio. Other stars the students met while studying abroad included Jackie Chan, Will Smith, and stage actor Russ Abbot, who was starring in Oliver in London.

In addition to meeting stars, experiencing London’s parks and transportation system, and enjoying weekend excursions to Bath, Stonehenge, Dover, Edinburgh and even Paris, BC students developed friendships with British residents.

Shaquera Moore attended church each Sunday, going to lunch with several members, and she hopes to house a couple of them when they visit here in the spring.

Caprice Kelly spent several days in Wales with the family of Beth Wellsberry, a Welsh college student who studied in Georgia last year and whom she met during BC’s 2009 International Education Week.