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Student Profile - Eryka Sandridge
Eyrka Sandridge

Student Profile
Eryka Sandridge

It’s summer 2010, and while most Coker students are enjoying the break, Eryka Sandridge is preparing for what will be one of the greatest adventures of her life.

She’s thumbing through her Spanish-English dictionary, finalizing paperwork and packing her bags in preparation for a year-long study abroad experience in Ecuador. This isn’t the first time she’s considered studying abroad. She had tentatively planned to travel to Costa Rica with a friend the year before, but backed out at the last minute.

“I was so nervous about leaving the country, so my friend ended up going without me,” Sandridge recalled. “When he returned, he told me I needed to study abroad because it would absolutely change my life, and that’s all the convincing I needed.”

This time she was serious, so she began researching foreign exchange programs online and began to weigh the pros and cons of various programs. At the urging of Professor of Spanish Cathy Cuppett, Sandridge applied for the Benjamin Gilman International Scholarship, which provides federal funding to students planning to study abroad. She thought it was a long shot, but she soon learned she would be the first student in the College’s history to receive the scholarship.

“I am so proud of Eryka for becoming Coker’s first Gilman scholar and for choosing to study abroad for an entire academic year,” said Cuppett. “I wish every student had her courage and determination.”

Sandridge’s year in Ecuador provided her with opportunities she never thought possible. In addition to taking courses, she also participated in an internship with a major TV station in the area. The sports communication and sports management double major had already completed two internships back in the States, but this internship took real-world experience to an entirely different level.

From day one, she found herself riding in the news van to the scene of breaking news. She experienced first-hand what being a reporter entails as she learned techniques for interviewing, reporting and writing press releases. Working with local media also greatly enhanced her understanding of the language since she had only taken two Spanish classes prior to leaving for Ecuador.

“You can take classes, but until you experience it for yourself you don’t know what a job is really like,” said Sandridge. “Internships have helped me understand what it will take to be successful in my future career.”

As her time abroad came to an end, Sandridge knew her life would never be the same. She had lived for an entire year in another country, and she was wiser, stronger and more self-aware because of it. And her next journey is already within sight. Sandridge will be attending graduate school in Chicago in the fall to train for her dream career as a CNN reporter. Regardless of what comes next, she knows she is equipped with the confidence and dedication necessary to face it head-on.

“I don’t know where I would be if I hadn’t taken the trip,” said Sandridge. “My year abroad and my time at Coker helped me come to terms with what I want out of life. Now I know exactly what I want to do and what it takes to get there.”

For more information, contact Kyria Hoffman - 843.857.4103

 
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