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College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

Summer Study in Ecuador and Russia Inspires International Studies, Spanish Major

After spending the summer studying in Russia and Ecuador, University of Mississippi sophomore Kathy Trabue of Columbia, Mo., is further convinced that she made the right decision when she declared a double major in international studies and Spanish and minor in Russian.

“Thanks to the opportunities that I have received at Ole Miss, I’m able to have these experiences that most college freshmen only dream about,” she said. “The summer just furthered my love for traveling and my love for my international studies major.”

A member of the Croft Institute for International Studies and the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, Trabue studied the languages in both Russia and Ecuador.

She said the highlights of the two sojourns differed greatly.

“In Russia, I enjoyed my classes and getting a better grasp of the language much more than anything,” she said. “Ecuador was more about the people that I was able to meet and befriend.”

As a member of the UM Language Initiative in Russian, Trabue received a scholarship for the six hours of tuition related to her language study in Russia. The UMLI is a program for entering freshmen that offers an accelerated path to completion of a language minor during the sophomore year, as well as a focus on fluency and scholarship money for summer study.

Traveling was also a highlight of her summer. In Russia, her group visited St. Petersburg and Moscow, as well as the smaller cities of Vladimir and Suzdal.

While in Ecuador, she traveled with friends to Banos, Montanita and Riobamba. Her adventures included climbing partway up the inactive volcano Chimborazo, Ecuador’s highest summit. She also biked down a volcano, rode a horse for the first time and went four-wheeling.

Trabue is no stranger to international travel. The summer before her freshman year in high school, she participated in a two-week tour and residential language program at the University of Salamanca, Spain. During her senior year in high school, she finished her classes a semester early and spent three months in Madrid, Spain, tutoring children in English.

“It was great and started me off on the path toward taking more of these abroad experiences,” she said.

An added benefit of her travels has been gaining a better understanding of people of other nationalities.

“I’ve come to realize that no matter how different a country’s history, no matter how different the food, no matter how different any aspect of their culture, we all have overwhelming similarities,” she said.

Honors College membership gives Trabue access to the college’s vibrant center of academic excellence, which merges intellectual rigor with public service to help member students from all disciplines become outstanding in their fields.

“As of now, my dream job would be working in the State Department making outreach efforts toward Cuba, particularly since relations between the two countries are increasing day by day, and many are expecting the embargo to be lifted. I can also see myself working in an international nongovernmental organization such as UNICEF or the Red Cross.”

Listed on the Chancellor’s Honor Roll, Trabue recently received the Croft Institute’s Rose Bui Scholarship for Academic Excellence. She is slated to graduate from UM in spring 2013. Her tentative plans include attending graduate school.

A 2009 graduate of Rock Bridge High School in Columbia, Mo., she is daughter of Kim and Tom Trabue.

To learn more about the UMLI program, visit

For more information on the Croft Institute and Honors College, visit and