College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

Spanish, International Studies Major Studies Abroad to Complete Honors Thesis

Sederia Gray of Starkville, a senior at the University of Mississippi, is immersing herself in Ecuadorian culture this semester.

In a perfect learning opportunity considering her two majors, Spanish and international studies, Gray is studying at the Universidad San Franciso de Quito in Cumbaya, Ecuador. While there, she is working on her senior thesis project for the international studies major and as a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. It is titled “Political Mobilization of Afro-Ecuadorians Seeking a National Identity,” a comparison of political mobilization factors in Ecuador and Brazil.

Gray’s study abroad is made possible through a UM exchange partnership with USFQ, coordinated by the UM Study Abroad Office. This exchange allows her to take courses abroad and apply them to her UM degree as resident credit, and it enables her to use financial aid that she receives on campus to help defray travel expenses. She left Aug. 22 for Ecuador, and she says that her experience is proving to be very rewarding.

“I have been able to travel to two different towns, where I have observed the diverse cultures,” she said. “I have also learned a lot through my host family and university. Each part of Ecuador has its own history and cultural background, and that’s what makes it so interesting and diverse.”

Gray said she hopes that by living and studying abroad, she will begin to understand both the similarities and differences between life in the United States and in other parts of the world. Her plans include a trip to the nearby Galapagos Islands, which are known for their rich variety of wildlife and vegetation.

After receiving her undergraduate degree at Ole Miss in May 2010, Gray plans to attend law school and concentrate in corporate law. Eventually, she would like to become an entrepreneur and start her own business.

A 2006 graduate of Starkville High School, she is the daughter of Eucluck and Gwendolyn Gray.     For more information, visit,, and