CORVALLIS - Christina Edwards Van Muijen is going to work on another continent as part of a new attempt to boost Oregon college students' global savvy.
Van Muijen, a junior in Oregon State University's Department of Food Science and Technology, is one of 11 OSU students taking part this summer in Global Graduates, an internship program operated by the Oregon State System of Higher Education (OSSHE) in cooperation with the state Department of Economic Development. A federal pilot grant is funding the program.
Through Global Graduates, students from Oregon's public colleges and universities have an opportunity to get practical experience in an international setting. An overall program goal is to improve U.S. competitiveness in an increasingly global economy by developing job candidates with international experience, say program administrators.
"I'm most interested in food chemistry. I like research and development," said Van Muijen, who is leaving this month for Torino, Italy, for a six-month internship. First, she will work in a food-related chemistry laboratory. In the fall, she will switch to a job with a company that operates about 200 grocery stores.
"I just want to learn about the food industry in another country and culture," said Van Muijen. "I'm really excited but I don't know quite what to expect."
Van Muijen, of Westlake Village, Calif., will live in a dormitory at the University of Torino and earn academic credit for her internship. Besides helping set up the internship, the Global Graduates program will provide her with a $3,500 scholarship to offset some of her expenses.
Such international experience is extremely valuable in the food industry and will be even more important in the future, said Antonio Torres, a professor in OSU's food science and technology department.
The Global Graduates program is open to all undergraduate and master's degree students enrolled in a degree program at an OSSHE institution. Like other institutions, OSU has a team that helps students set up internships almost anywhere in the world, according to Eric Piel, director of administration for the OSSHE-wide program.
Piel said this is the first program in the United States that is a joint effort of a state system of higher education and a state economic development department. The program will help Oregon businesses expand their connections in other countries, he added, noting that some students will have internships with Oregon firms followed by work with similar businesses overseas. The internships generally range from three to six months and are available to students in all fields of study. Students who are United States citizens are eligible for need-based grants and merit scholarships to subsidize travel costs and living expenses. Campus financial aid also can be applied to the internships.
Each OSSHE institution has a coordinator for the program. OSU's coordinator is Amy Reardon. For more information call Reardon at 541-737-6459 or write her at 444 Snell Hall, OSU, Corvallis, OR 97331.
Other OSU students who have Global Graduates internships this summer:
ADRIAN: Manuel Michel, a junior agricultural business management major, will work in Queretaro, Mexico, at the Center for the Study of Environmental Contamination.
ALBANY: Steve Mast, a 1996 graduate in speech communication, will work in Kobe, Japan, as an assistant to a construction project manager.
CORVALLIS: Greg Ivers, a senior Spanish major, will teach English at an institute in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Kevin Wilson, a senior animal science and international studies major, will work in Linguere, Senegal, as a veterinary assistant.
EUGENE: Kristi Mayes, a junior civil engineering major, will work in Edinburgh, Scotland, on an environmental engineering project.
GRESHAM: Liette Powell, a senior biology and international studies major, will work in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, at a medical center for adolescents.
MILTON-FREEWATER: Susana Alvarez, a senior speech communication major, will work in Mexico City for an organization that works with street children.
PORTLAND: Mike Halama, a 1996 business administration graduate, will work in Mexico City as a marketing representative for the U.S. Dairy Export Council. Halama had an internship during the spring term at the World Trade Center in Portland.
FORT WAYNE: John Waterman, a senior forestry management major, will work in Londrina, Brazil, sampling and mapping vegetation for the State University of Londrina.
FALLS: Russell Faux, who is studying for his master's degree in bioresource engineering, will work in Lilongwe, Malawi, at the Center for Agricultural Research and Development monitoring the environment and land use impacts of crops.