Globally-focused courses prepare students for 21st century workforce.

By Jana Carver

Students seated around a globe.

Guilford Technical Community College instructor Melissa Maley has always had a passion for other cultures.

“It’s natural for me. … I’ve always wanted to help students learn about the world beyond our borders,” said Maley, who has been a religion instructor in the Humanities Department at GTCC for nine years. “That’s what the Global Scholars program is all about.”

As coordinator of the North Carolina Global Scholars of Distinction Program at GTCC, Maley is helping students broaden their global perspective and create the same passion that she carries.

In October 2015, GTCC implemented the North Carolina Global Scholars of Distinction Program to enhance students’ global knowledge and understanding of other cultures. The program stems from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s World View Program, which trains instructors on how to incorporate global education into their curriculum.

“It’s a great résumé builder when it comes to applying for four-year universities or jobs, especially if you want to go into a field that is already global,” Maley said of the Global Scholars program.

To become a Global Scholar, students have to successfully complete 15 credit hours in globally-focused courses, such as World Literature I (ENG-261) or Eastern Religions (REL-111), earning a B or higher. They’re also required to attend eight hours of international events and complete 30 hours of studying abroad or in-state service learning. Completion of the program means that students receive the Global Scholars of Distinction mark on their diploma and transcript.

Maley said being a Global Scholar helps students gain the knowledge to truly understand other cultures—something she believes is needed now more than ever.

“In some ways, we have more details about cultures than we ever have before, but, when we don’t have the education to interpret that information, we tend to react with fear,” Maley said. “We live in a world that has been increasingly affected by globalization, but we need education to understand the information we are given.”

According to Maley, GTCC is one of 10 community colleges in North Carolina that has partnered with the World View Program. Having sister colleges as part of the initiative has allowed GTCC students to participate in travel abroad programs at other community colleges. In March 2017, two GTCC students will tour Japan and learn about Japanese culture through Davidson County Community College (DCCC).

Interest in the Global Scholars program is growing. Since the program started in fall 2016 with 25 students, the number of participants has doubled. Maley’s hope is that the program will reach 75 participants before the academic year ends in 2017.

Anggie (Nicole) Aguirre was the first of two students to graduate from the program in May 2016 and benefitted from the experience.

Anggie (Nicole) Aguirre

GTCC student Anggie (Nicole) Aguirre was the first of two students to graduate from the program in May 2016 and benefitted from the experience.

“I have gained more knowledge, more mind openness, more understanding of the cultures that are not of my own,” Aguirre said. “I have grown a lot as a person. I am not afraid of trying new things or interacting with people from other countries, and it has made me more confident of what I want to pursue in the future.”

For Aguirre, her time in the Global Scholars Program was invaluable, and she would recommend the experience to anyone who wants to broaden their knowledge of the world.

“I would encourage other students to participate in this program because it is an experience like no other,” she said. “They will learn so much, such as a language, more history, they will become more sensitive and aware of other cultures that are part of the USA, or maybe people in their own classes. It is incredible to know more and more every day and even better when you initiate that learning process.”

To learn more about GTCC’s Global Scholars Program, visit