June 17, 2008
Ami Barry is a 21-year-old, third-year student from Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. She spent the fall 2005 semester abroad at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.
Classmates from Fisk, where she is studying chemistry and mathematics, thought it peculiar that "abroad" could mean just several hundred miles north.
Actually, what it means is that Ami was able to attend Case through a unique educational exchange program. The program between Fisk and Case stems from a partnership, established in 2002, whereby students from both schools can attend the other university for a semester, enroll in dual-degree programs, and participate in joint research with a national or international scope. They also have access to the host campus’s faculty, facilities, and area cultural and educational resources.
To help spread the word about this new Case & Fisk in Partnership, the schools have embarked on several initiatives. After creating a Task Force to establish guidelines and make program recommendations, Case and Fisk teamed in spring 2004 to offer a course via satellite taught collaboratively by Thomas Csordas, Case professor of anthropology, and Sheila Peters, Fisk associate professor of psychology. Fourteen students (ten from Case, four from Fisk) completed the course titled Multicultural Diversity, Social Inequity, and the Pursuit of Health in Global Perspectives. During the summer, three Fisk students worked as research interns in Case’s Department of Macromolecular Science and Engineering, as well as the Department of Biomedical Engineering. In addition, several Case students spent a portion of their fall break in Nashville, serving as program ambassadors to learn bout student life and academic opportunities at Fisk.
However, Ami is the first student to participate as an exchange student, the start of what this program hopes to become. Program organizers hope that a Case student will attend Fisk for a semester in 2006. The university’s Office of Undergraduate Studies helps to administer the exchange through its Exchange and Study Abroad Program.
Taking advantage of distinctive educational opportunities is nothing new for Ami. Her involvement in a group in high school called Target H.O.P.E (Healing, Opportunity, Pride and Empowerment) opened her eyes to possibilities: college, careers, and scholarship. The college prep program for prospective first-generation college students in grades 9 through 12 informed her of what she needed to know about types of colleges and programs, admission requirements, academic preparation, and financial aid. In addition, participants took a tour of colleges, which is where she learned about Fisk.
"I was impressed. There is so much history. I enjoyed learning about the Jubilee Singers and the role they played in keeping the university open [the original Jubilee Singers went on an international tour in 1871 to raise money], as well as the history of each building and how it relates to the shape of the campus. It is an amazing place. The small student-teacher ratio allows for a family atmosphere where you are more than just a name or a Social Security number. I fell in love with Fisk at first sight. However, the university’s exceptional academic record was the deciding factor in my final decision."
The youngest of three girls, Ami enjoys being a part of a close-knit family and is eager to return to her native Chicago. Still, she is glad for the opportunity to attend classes on another campus, in another region, plus learn about herself and her academic and social capabilities.