Perspective Online

Home for the Holidays

by Amy K. Lavender

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.”

Some may consider these words of wisdom, but University of West Georgia student Ethan Brown considers them words to live by. As a result, he has just planted his feet on American soil after a year-long stint completing a study abroad course that will give him a dual degree in international business. Oh, and by the way, he’s also more than half way through getting his bachelor’s and master’s degrees simultaneously through the Richards College of Business’ Southwire Sustainable Business Honors (SSBH) Program.

Home for the HolidaysSome people may call him crazy. Ethan says he’s just making the most of life.

“The reason I chose to study a year in France is the same reason I went to China, joined the SSBH program, and traveled to Alaska with a National Geographic expedition; I was searching for a new challenge and new adventure,” Ethan explained. “Every year since I was a teenager, I get the itch to push out of my comfort zone, challenge myself, and try something new and different. The summer of my third year of college was no different. When that feeling of complacency began to creep in, I desperately started looking for solutions.”

That solution came in the form of a dual enrollment opportunity through a partnership with UWG and the École Supérieure de Commerce et Management (ESCEM) in Poitiers, France. After seeking some advice from Richards College of Business faculty and staff, he decided to go for it.

Completing a dual enrollment program while working on your bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the same time sounds like it may be a bit overwhelming, but Economics Lecturer and SSBH Program Director Melanie Hildebrandt said Ethan had it well in hand.

“Like the other students in the program, Ethan successfully juggles heavy class loads, sustainable business collaborations, and involvement in other campus groups and activities,” Melanie said. “He continually displays dedication to the SSBH program, his academic studies, and his work with the Southwire Company. He crafted a flexible and creative plan that allowed him the opportunity to study abroad in France for two semesters while still completing the required internship and projects of the SSBH program.”

As a result, Ethan has spent the past year taking advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. He has been exposed to a different culture, made new friends, and discovered different learning methods.

“The first thing I learned was how to adapt to and enjoy a new country with a different culture, language, and process of doing things,” Ethan said. “Unlike most schools in the U.S., all the classes [here] have group work with students from different countries. I learned so much about how to work around cultural barriers, how I work in a team, how to include everyone’s ideas into one solid piece of work. In class, I learned how to perform in-depth legal environmental scanning for [foreign direct investment] and how to integrate a business strategy, supply chain logistics, and public relations strategies into an international context and county- or region-specific profile.”

However, along with all his in-class lessons, Ethan also learned a lot about life and himself.

“I discovered through the last year that I love French wine, having a ‘crisis’ while traveling makes the best stories later, and that by removing yourself from your comfort zone you allow yourself to be confident that you know who you are and what you want in life,” Ethan said. “This year in France has had a big influence on me. As a result, I have a passion to be an international, a desire to see the world, and an enlightenment that there will always be someone with a good story and something new to learn.”

Ethan’s instructors say they have also seen a change in him as he has developed from a wide-eyed go getter from Tallapoosa, Georgia, eager to begin learning to a sophisticated, worldly young man with clear goals, determination, and focus.

“Ethan is an individual who is forward thinking and mindful of his choices and decisions. He has grown so much as student and as a person since beginning the SSBH Program,” said Richards College of Business Director of External Services and Programs Simone Lee. “His experiences while studying in France over the past year have matured him even more. Living on your own in a foreign country helps mold you into an individual capable of taking on more than you would have ever dreamed of for yourself. It is an opportunity to broaden your worldview academically and discover yourself as an individual. Ethan has taken the opportunities afforded to him by the Richards College of Business to new heights!”

When we last made contact with Ethan, he had just landed safely in the U.S. after waiting for almost a week on the standby list, making it home in time for Christmas. The winter break will be a welcome respite from his globe trekking adventures. And as he looks back on the past year, he can be proud of all that he’s accomplished in 2015.

And what’s in store for 2016? Aside from completing his bachelor’s and MBA in business and finishing up his internship with Southwire? Only a short respite before plunging headlong into another adventure.

“I plan on relaxing, eating some mouthwatering, un-healthy, fried Southern food, and coming up with a new challenge for myself,” he said.


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Posted: January 7, 2016

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