The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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One step away
June 8, 2024

Not an average summer: Aggies learn, serve during the break

Photo by Photo Courtesy of M’Kate_Photography

Junior agricultural communications major Athlyn Allen went participated in the Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communication department’s study abroad trip to Namibia, Africa.

From an accidental tribal marriage to a week spent with underprivileged foster kids, Texas A&M students spent this past summer engaging their communities and taking their education beyond the confines of the classroom.
According to Texas A&M Today, A&M is the nation’s leader in public universities sending students abroad and sends over 3,000 students abroad each school year. A&M also remains a hub for students learning on campus and in nearby cities. Each summer, A&M sends out thousands of students across the state and around the world to impact communities, participate in internships and the local workforce and continue to learn, abroad and at home.
Computer science senior Constantina Hug interned at The Raytheon Company in their Center of Innovation in Austin, Texas this past summer. Hug said her internship mainly focused on an attempt to stimulate an operating system’s crash to create an exploit, where she worked alongside the vulnerability research team.
“There’s always more to learn within computer science and cyber security,” Hug said. “Instead of being overwhelming, it was super exciting because the people within that industry are incredibly helpful and willing to train you, equip you and empower you to know more about the industry and computer science.”
Hug said although classroom education remains a fundamental aspect of college, interning provides a valuable, real world experience with one’s major or future job.
University leadership sophomore Matthew Swanson dedicated a part of his summer to the Royal Kids Summer Camp, a week-long summer experience dedicated to kids in foster care. As a camp counselor, his job was primarily to ensure kids had fun and felt free to be themselves during camp.
“You have to be constantly on the lookout for these kids, pouring encouragement and love into these kids,” Swanson said. “Even though you’re having fun too, it’s not at all about you, because, for a lot of these kids, it’s the only time they get to focus solely on having fun.”
With activities that ranged from ziplining to woodshop, the camp is specifically geared towards creating space for the kids to express themselves. Above all, Swanson said, the purpose was to show them how much they’re cared about.
“Every night while we’re putting them to bed, we get to encourage them and show them how much we love them, how much God loves them,” Swanson said. “It was really cool getting to see the kids respond to that.”
Across the world from Swanson, agricultural communication junior Athlyn Allen engaged with the local communities and wildlife of Namibia, Africa through the Agriculture Photography and Agricultural Leadership study abroad program. With tourism as the largest means of economic growth, Namibia has had to modernize quickly to respond to the incoming visitors.
“Namibia hasn’t been a country long, so they’re still working on establishing means of earning economy for their people,” Allen said. “Tourism is huge what with the diverse game and hunting opportunities there. However, because tourism has grown so rapidly, the country has actually modernized itself and there aren’t many of the tribes that still live in huts.”
Throughout the program, Allen had the opportunity to interact with local tribes involved in the rising tourism industry in Namibia. During one encounter with a local tribe called the Damara, Allen found herself accidentally married to a local tribesman.
“There was a ritual dance they were all participating in and inviting people into,” Allen said. “All I could think was, ‘Yeah, I totally want to do this dance.’ Before I knew it, I was paired with this young man around my age and we were married, just like that.”
After her experience abroad, Allen said she encourages other Aggies to go out and study abroad as well. Studying abroad gives students the opportunity to live the things they’re learning, Allen said, they don’t spend their time sitting in a classroom.
“You’re out there experiencing it. For me, it was more critical in my education than many classes I’ve taken just on campus or online,” Allen said. “I would encourage everyone to do it. Get out there and do it. If you’re afraid, go talk to someone about their experience, but whatever you do, don’t let that keep you from actually experiencing your education.”

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