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Rylee Stanton graduates Georgia Southern with an education from around the world

Stanton is an Honors Scholar in International Studies with a Spanish double major, and an alternate for the prestigious Fulbright U.S. Student Program. A native of Arizona, she loves to travel and enjoyed making Statesboro her home away from home.
Rylee Stanton

Rylee Stanton, a Georgia Southern graduate from Phoenix, Arizona, says she’s grateful to have had Statesboro as her home away from home for the past four years.

She’s a traveler. And anything closer wouldn’t do.

“My family has always made traveling a priority,” said Stanton. “So that was something that was a priority for me going into college. I wanted to be able to study abroad and study something that would lead me to a career that would allow me to travel.”

Stanton is an Honors Scholar in International Studies with a Spanish double major, all of which gives her a good foundation as a global explorer. And explore she did.

Her undergrad days brought lots of travel experiences. Her first stop was Colombia, a trip offered through the World Languages and Cultures Department at Georgia Southern.

“Colombia was wonderful,” said Stanton. “I absolutely loved studying abroad. I stayed with a host family and got to meet a lot of people from Colombia and other students. My experience really helped improve my Spanish-speaking and cross-cultural skills.”

Stanton’s trip was enjoyable, but also gave her the idea for her Honors College thesis.

“I got to go on some fun adventures with my classmates,” Stanton recalled. “We went to Tayrona National Park and Biosphere Reserve. I experienced the beauty of the landscape and talked to the locals about how it is managed. Those conversations ended up helping me with the language and inspiring my thesis in which I explore governance in biosphere reserves.”

Last summer, Stanton was able to experience quite a different visual and cultural landscape at the Wexford, Ireland, learning center.

“Wexford was wonderful as welI. I really enjoyed studying with the other students from the Honors College,” said Stanton. “We carried out  a lot of archival research, trying to create the stories that would eventually become part of a tour app and tour initiative in Savannah to connect Wexford and Savannah. I met and spoke with the former prime minister of Ireland, Bertie Ahern, who helped with the Good Friday Agreement. So that was really cool in terms of international relations and policy.”

Stanton says these experiences are important to her because of the career skills she’s learning along the way.

“I think studying abroad is very important when it comes to developing your personal confidence and problem-solving skills,” she said. 

Although overseas travel has been a highlight for Stanton, this year she visited New York City as a member of Georgia Southern’s Model U.N. delegation, pitting her skills against other prestigious schools throughout the U.S.

“Model U.N. has been a really great experience,” said Stanton. “It allowed us to travel to New York where we were able to meet people from all around the world. This enabled us to spend time learning collaboration skills, cross-cultural skills, diplomacy and soft diplomacy skills.”

International relations were on top of Stanton’s mind when she went through the process of applying for the prestigious Fulbright U.S. Student Program. With help from her professors, especially Francis Desiderio, Ph.D., associate dean of the Honors College, she worked on the application for several months.

Stanton was excited to be a semi-finalist for the award and now that she’s been upgraded to an alternate, there is a chance she’ll get in.

“Regardless if I get in or not, I’m really pleased to get this far,” said Stanton. “I know it is an achievement. Also, I’m very glad that I did that application process, because I think it’s helpful when you’re trying to think about applying for a master’s.” 

But while master’s degree is not Stanton’s immediate next step. She’s not going to simply relax after graduation.

“I’ve applied to several internships, and I’m waiting to hear back on those,” she said. “I’ve had interviews for several of them, and I’m waiting for the final response. Of all of them, I would like to be doing research in Washington, D.C., talking about security studies in Latin America.”

Stanton has loved her experience at Georgia Southern and it shows by the three ceremonies in which she’s walking — one for the Honors Medallion Ceremony, another for the College of Arts and Sciences and another for the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences.

“People ask me all the time why I came to Georgia when they discover that  I’m from Arizona,” she said. “When I was a senior, I kind of found Georgia Southern on a whim while touring other schools in the areas of Florida and Georgia. And I had a really, really great campus tour here. And then after I had applied and got scholarships, the Honors College hosted an Honors Scholars event. As prospective students, we had the opportunity to network with the professors and the students. I realized then that Georgia Southern would be a great place for me. And it has turned out to be fantastic.”

When asked what has been her most memorable experience at Georgia Southern, Stanton is quick to answer.

“When I was asked to give  the speech at the Honors Scholars Day,” Stanton said. “I got to thank all the professors, and talk to the prospective students about the different activities offered at Georgia Southern. 

“I try to  encourage students to take risks, to try new things, to take the road less traveled and to challenge yourself.”

And that’s exactly what Stanton plans to do.