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Monday, August 16, 2010 - Endowment opens world of possibility for scholarship recipient

Studying abroad can be an expensive proposition and one Lacie Melasi didn't believe she'd be able to overcome -- until she was selected as the first recipient of the Catherine Tyler Memorial International Award. This endowed scholarship was established in memory of OU's assistant professor of management who died in a scuba diving accident in 2007. Passionate about travel, Tyler believed international expertise couldn’t be learned from a textbook or film, but had to be experienced firsthand.

Thanks to the scholarship, Melasi fulfilled a dream to visit China when she embarked on her first trip abroad this spring as part of the SBA's Global Scholars Program. The senior accounting major, who is also part of the SBA's Applied Technology in Business program, believes this experience will complement the education and hands-on experience that's an essential part of her SBA education.


"I'm extremely grateful," says Melasi, who plans to take the CPA exam after graduation. "I would have tried really hard, but I'm not sure that I would have been able to go without the assistance. Even with it, I struggled to come up with ways to cover the remaining costs."


The award provides support for undergraduate and graduate students who participate in university-approved international internships or study abroad experiences. Awards may be used for tuition, air fare, lodging or other related expenses.

During the trip, Melasi and her fellow students studied automotive dealerships in China.

"It was an amazing opportunity," she says. "This trip also gave me the experience of taking a Chinese language class in another country. As a soon-to-be graduate, I wanted to see and experience this firsthand. By working on a business project there, I applied what I learned in the classroom and had a chance to study how Chinese companies conduct business."


This is the type of experience that gives OU SBA graduates a competitive edge in the job market.


"The experience will show employers my interest in a global market. It also helped me prepare for conducting business in a foreign country, or with people of a different culture and language," says Melasi.


In addition to immersing herself in the international business experience, Melasi also had a chance to explore China. Melasi's favorite activities included climbing the Great Wall and learning about China's history.

 "I learned a lot about Chinese culture and traditions, including the similarities and differences between how businesses operate there in comparison to in the United States," Melasi says. "Aside from that, I was surprised to discover how much I learned about myself during our stay. It was a phenomenal experience."

By Dawn Pauli