By Samantha Vega-Torres – 1851 Contributor
In an email sent by Academic Affairs on September 29, students were informed that all study abroad and Shoulder to Shoulder programs for the Spring 2022 semester would be canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Director of International Student Services Maria Adkins was asked about the cancellation of the study abroad program and its impact on the decision process behind the program not continuing for next semester.
“…President Alexander, really talked with the board and decided that, for safety matters with COVID-19 on the rise at the time in late August when they were making this decision, there were too many unknowns. And to be cautious and thinking of the safety of our students they canceled study abroad for the spring semester,” said Adkins.
Adkins went on to share the importance of the domestic programs continuing for the spring semester, such as a semester in the city, the Disney college program, and the Washington D.C. spring semester trip. However, Adkins did not mention there is an alternative route to study abroad during the pandemic.
Senior fashion merchandising major Karina Fernandes, who is double minoring in business and entrepreneurship, is currently taking a leave of absence to study at the London College of Fashion for the fall semester. Fernandes worked everything out with the study abroad office who assured her the credits she earned would transfer back to Lasell.
“I sent them an email and…they told me that I could take a leave of absence from [Lasell] for a semester. I would be able to study abroad independently, and I would just have to pay my current school . . . directly rather than paying through Lasell,” said Fernandes when asked about the process.
Fernandes has had many opportunities since being in London to help strengthen her portfolio, including attending London Fashion Week and working with brands such as KNWLS, Rejina Pyo, and Paul & Joe. Fernandes hopes more students will have the opportunity to take a leave of absence as she did.
Some students were hoping for the opportunity to study abroad internationally this year, like current junior health science major Celeste Hunter-Pines. “Having certain things in order already just to have plans fall through so far into the year was disheartening,” said Hunter-Pines.
The news sparked empathy in recent alumni, Noor Lobad (‘21), a fashion media and marketing major whose study abroad at the London College of Fashion in Spring 2020 was cut short.
“A lot of schools are continuing their study abroad programs that I’m seeing and then there are schools that are just canceling them across the board…I guess Lasell is erring on the side of caution a little bit more…we’re just going to have to wait and see. It’s going to be a while before things go back to normal,” said Lobad.
Academic Affairs noted in their email announcing the cancellation of Spring 2022 study abroad programs they would continue to monitor COVID-19 news to decide whether study abroad will continue for the Fall 2022 semester.
“I do hope study abroad returns next fall. I’m hoping more and more people get vaccinated and we get beyond this pandemic, because it certainly affected a lot of people and especially global travel in general,” said Adkins.