Allie Shea (Class of 2017)

photo of Allie Shea

  • honors senior double major in Psychology and International Studies
  • from Mason, OH
  • CAS Dean's Scholar conducting research on cultural adjustment and intercultural competence with Dr. Ginger Wickline (2016-17)
  • studied abroad on Miami's Psychology in Japan (Summer 2014) and Cuba in Transition (January 2016) programs
  • Fellow with the U.S. Department of State's Study of U.S. Institutes (Summer 2015)
  • interned at the Office of Administration for the Executive Office of the President during the Obama Administration (Spring 2016)
  • International Affairs Fellow for the Council of American Ambassadors mentoring program (Summer 2016)
"My research and presentation experiences in Japan, DC, and Columbus have shaped my skill sets and broadened my opportunities in ways I never would have expected. Research is an ongoing process which has afforded me so many opportunities for networking, staying in contact with people, taking every opportunity that comes my way, and not being too focused."

Why Miami?

"I'm from nearby Mason, Ohio, so coming to Miami was convenient, though I was definitely interested in coming here anyway because Miami provides so many opportunities for undergraduate research, study abroad, and extracurricular involvement. Without the help of professors, Career Services, and opportunities within my major departments, I never would have imagined that I could do so much in such a short period of time.

"I've always been a big reader and writer, and I enjoyed research while in high school. I came to Miami as a psychology and linguistics double major but then switched out linguistics for international studies. I've really enjoyed the classes offered through my liberal arts education here. I have been able to choose interesting classes, even if they weren't related to my majors such as a kinesiology course called KNH 276 - The Meaning of Leisure and EDL 260 - Educational Development Leadership.

"Miami professors really make an effort to get to know their students and will help them in any way they can. I particularly like how professors encourage dialogue in class. So many lecture classes are simply that: a lecture. At Miami, I have found that professors don't want to just 'feed' the information to their students, but rather engage them in conversations that require them to use critical thinking skills and understand their thinking processes.

"Miami's equestrian team was another thing that brought me here. I've been riding horses since I was 7 years old. Little did my parents realize that my passion for horses was not going to end after high school. The Miami University Equestrian Team (MUET) was a great way to get connected to new people and provides great camaraderie for my Miami experience."

Best Miami Experiences

"They call Miami a public ivy school, so I know when I graduate I'll automatically be prepared for a career no matter what. I think that because Miami offers all kinds of activities, clubs, study abroad opportunities, and support from professors, I'm being well-prepared and kept on task.

"In summer 2014 I did an internship through Miami called SUSI, Study of the United States Institute, which is for student scholars working in civic engagement. It was a 5-week program in which we went to New York, Washington, and Philadelphia. It was really amazing. They brought over 20 students from the Middle East, which helped it tie in with international studies and was another reason why I chose to participate. I got to interact with these international students, and since I have a Middle Eastern background, this made the program even more interesting and meaningful."

Miami and Liberal Arts Education

Allie Shea poses in front of a wall in Cuba.

"From the beginning, it's been one of my goals to do study abroad every year, and two trips really stand out: Japan and Cuba. On top of that, I've gotten involved in research, mentored by associate professor of psychology Ginger Wickline. During my freshman year Dr. Wickline first told me about a specific study abroad experience, Psychology in Japan, that she was co-leading with clinical faculty member, Deborah Wiese.

"My two majors are preparing me with so many opportunities to interact with other cultures, study abroad, learn a foreign language, and learn how to present research. I think that's a big part of my development with my public speaking skills, so I feel very prepared for my life after graduation.

"My psychology research project with Dr. Wickline is focused on cultural adjustment and intercultural competence. It was really great because I was able to pick my own topic, which has been very focused and a good introduction to the research process. This experience has not only taken me to Japan in the summer of 2014, but also to visit various schools and later on to Washington, DC to present my research with the Government Relations Network (GRN) — and it's currently the basis for my CAS Dean's Scholarship. Undergraduate research was certainly a catalyst for so much more during my Miami undergraduate education.

"My faculty advisor for international studies is Melanie Ziegler, a senior lecturer in the Department of Global and Intercultural Studies. She told me about her study abroad trip, Cuba in Transition, which I went on in January 2016 and was able to use my Spanish. Overall, it's funny how I've been able to go on international trips with both of my faculty advisors, which is the best way to get to know them!

"Another big part of my Miami experience was participating as a fellow in the Study of US Institutes (SUSI) program in summer 2015. We brought students from the Middle East here to Oxford so they could learn about American government. This included trips to DC and Chicago. It was such a life-changing experience, and I'm still in contact with my roommate to this day! This comprehensive, well-planned program was offered through the U.S. Department of State.

Allie Shea poses with her Council of American Ambassadors mentors, Ambassador Phillip Hughes and Ambassador Julia Chang-Bloch.

"Last summer (2016) I was one of six students nationwide to be awarded a Fellowship with the Council of American Ambassadors Program. I participated in a mentoring program with former US ambassadors and officials in international affairs combined with a full-time internship at the U.S. Department of State. This program prepares fellows to assume responsibility to helping the US strengthen alliances and promote democracy, peace, human rights, and prosperity in other countries around the world. I also took classes at George Mason University that focused around foreign policy and economics. I'm proud to say that I am the first Miamian to receive this fellowship!

"Finally, another experience that has really benefitted my education was getting a spring 2016 internship at the White House's Office of Administration for the Executive Office of the President. I applied for it through the government website, figuring that the best place for an internship would be DC, since I've wanted to work in public service. I made so many good contacts that summer and was recently invited back to help the Obama Administration with their transition to the Trump Administration during J-Term 2017."

Miami and the Liberal Arts

"Both the Miami Plan and your major requirements give you a pinpointed outcome that I think is beneficial. I've been able to merge both my majors together. With my psychology major and research I have really developed my skills in intercultural competence, and my international studies major has provided more aspects of that intercultural competence.

"But my liberal arts education has expanded my horizons beyond the Miami Plan and my majors. It's allowed me to select courses that would not only tie in with my majors, but provide a bit more perspective and in-depth knowledge in an area that I may not typically explore. For instance, I took a class called Music of the World that allowed me to learn more in depth about some of the different music genres and styles from across the globe.

"All of my international studies courses have been amazing, but ITS 301 [Intercultural Relations], taught by Charles Stevens, stuck out to me in particular because it made us think about our foundation of American democracy. It started a dialogue about our role in international issues and what America's role is within the international sphere. It tied in a lot of history and current events at the same time, which really prepared me for the foreign policy and political science courses I took while I was in DC for my summer internships."

Long, Rigorous Path Towards Intercultural Competence

"I started working on Dr. Wickline's intercultural competence research project when I was a freshman. She was my advisor for psychology, and while talking with her about my academic goals I mentioned that I really wanted to study abroad. She told me about an opportunity in Japan coming up that summer that she and Dr. Wiese were leading.

Allie Shea and a friend pose for a selfie in Japan.

"Japan was a great experience that was focused on not only intercultural competence, but also learning and developmental psychology. I was part of a group of 8-10 students, all psychology majors, who spent the majority of our 3 weeks in Tokyo and Hiroshima. We visited a number of elementary and junior high schools, including a large, special school that does integrative learning students with high-functioning autism. It was amazing.

"We also spent a day at Kyorin University in Tokyo, where the students there showed us around and paired with us to become our English conversation partners. One of the faculty members at Kyorin, Robin Sakamoto, teaches intercultural communication and had actually grown up in Michigan before moving to Japan with her kids.

"We visited the Peace Memorial in Hiroshima and met a woman there who's been very involved in educating the public about what happened — she had actually lived through the incident as a young child, so it was amazing to meet her and learn about her work. Additionally, we went on an amazing hiking trip up Mt. Takao near Tokyo. The scenery from the mountain was gorgeous, but even in the middle of a big city like Tokyo, you could discover little pockets of nature!

"Because my trip to Japan was related to my research project, during spring break 2015 I had the opportunity to go to Washington, DC to present my research on intercultural competence with students from Miami's Government Relations Network (GRN). My presentation skills were first developed at Miami's Undergraduate Research Forum. Since my ultimate goal is to work for the US government, going to DC for the first time with the GRN was a great way for me to network and present my research to congressional delegates on Capitol Hill and later at the Statehouse in Columbus, OH. I also worked as a lobbyist in both DC and Columbus to emphasize the importance of continued funding of undergraduate research at the university level.

"My research project is now the basis for my 2016-2017 CAS Dean's Scholarship. Since last fall, we've been taking data collected from Dr. Wickline's study to work it into a final manuscript while expanding on the research. I know I'll be working on this project through the rest of my time as a Miami undergraduate!

"My research and presentation experiences in Japan, DC, and Columbus have shaped my skill sets and broadened my opportunities in ways I never would have expected. Research is an ongoing process which has afforded me so many opportunities for networking, staying in contact with people, taking every opportunity that comes my way, and not being too focused. It's taught me that although you need to know what you want to get out of something, you shouldn't be too focused on just one way to get there."

Advice to Students

"First of all, get to know the faculty, especially your advisors. They can really help you find what you want to do, including courses and other opportunities that speak to that. Be involved on campus as well. Networking with different professors has linked me with other professors and opportunities, both short-term and long-term.

"You don't have to come in knowing what you want, but be open minded to different experiences. Sometimes those opportunities can change your entire perspective about something. In my case, who would have thought that my research project and Miami's Government Relations Network spring break trip would work together?

"Study abroad was a big ambitious goal of mine, but having a double major and graduating in about 4 years can make studying abroad a challenge. My goals have allowed me to have all kinds of different experiences that were all connected, one leading to another. I can always trace them back.

"Overall, I can say that research, networking, and belonging to some type of club or organization are the things that I have found most important at Miami. These will fill up your days (and nights), but it will all be worth it in the end!"

[January 2017]