ASC Student Turns Study Abroad Semester into Job Offer

Why would a bright, city kid (that is, the city to end all cities-NYC) want to attend Alfred State College when the world was open to him?

The answer is-well, honestly, he wouldn't.

Four years ago, Justin Shea, Brooklyn, a graduating senior in Alfred State College's baccalaureate-level architectural technology program, reluctantly accepted an All-American scholarship to attend school in Happy Valley. It wasn't his first choice, but after attending an Open House program and having a lengthy one-on-one conversation with Terry Palmiter, assistant professor, Computer Imaging and Architectural Engineering Department, Justin decided to give ASC a chance.

Orientation activities further added to Justin's budding love of the college and its small-town setting.

Little did he realize in those first few weeks that Alfred State would dramatically impact his life and his career.

Justin says that during his first year at ASC, he wasn't as involved as he was later to become. Once he started joining his classmates and peers, he became an ardent supporter of the school and its programs. Throughout his four years at Alfred State, Justin has become a student ambassador, giving tours of campus to prospective students; joined the International Club and the Architecture Club; and worked as a resident assistant for four semesters. He also enjoyed community service while at the college, most especially, helping out Hurricane Katrina victims in Biloxi, MS, as part of the College's relief efforts.

Locally, Justin was a grand success-well-rounded both academically and socially.

But, Justin wanted more. And even though ASC is not known as a school with an abundance of study abroad opportunities, Justin was determined that he would spend a semester abroad. An avid computer user, Justin located Denmark's International Study Program at the University of Copenhagen, where the courses he registered for would be compatible with the ASC program and would count toward his degree.

But Justin learned more than architecture while he was in Denmark. Prior to his spring semester 2006 departure, Justin went online and found a free computer course (15 chapters) where he studied, and learned, Danish to prepare himself for his European adventure. Once he got there, he and his bi-lingual Danish roommate, by mutual agreement, spoke only Danish "at home" so Justin could perfect his accent and inflections and increase his vocabulary.

Justin was also assigned a Danish "family" with whom he visited for meals and acculturation. That family became so important to Justin, in fact, that he visited with them during his semester break last December.

Not only did Justin manage to visit interesting sites in Denmark, but he also managed a visit to Rome where his twin sister was studying! Additionally, Justin traveled to Russia where he attended a conference at Moscow State University to discuss world political issues with a panel of international students and even ran into a student he'd met while he was in Biloxi! Justin managed to sightsee there as well as in Finland, Sweden, and France.

The courses were challenging, but Justin enjoyed his Danish experience and returned to Alfred State College ready to complete his senior year and begin his career.

Then Justin learned that Denmark's International Study Program offers teaching assistantships to a select few applicants. Justin threw his hat in that ring, meeting the eligibility requirements (must be an alumnus of the program, have a minimum grade point average of 3.0, and possess a bachelor's degree) and writing a winning essay! The catch: there was only one position available. And Justin got it!

So, for the next 15 months, Justin will serve as an architecture and design program and teaching assistant in a studio-based architecture program at the University of Copenhagen's International Study Program.

Ultimately, Justin would like to settle in his home of New York City, but before that day comes, he intends to earn a master's degree, travel, and continue doing those things he enjoys.

These days, Justin has only glowing comments about his ASC alma mater. "The faculty are genuinely interested in the progress and success of their students," he says. "The level of caring" of the faculty and staff is "beyond what I expected," Justin adds.

Justin also credits his family (Mr. and Mrs. John T. Shea, Brooklyn, and sister Diane) for their unstinting support and encouragement along the way. This Bishop Ford High School (Brooklyn) graduate is taking the world (literally!) by storm.