Student becomes study abroad expert

SMC student Brianna Prime has studied abroad three times.

Only one percent of American students study abroad for credit during their college years. Brianna Prime was able to travel three times in three and a half years.

A senior strategic communications major and Spanish minor, Prime has traveled to Dublin, Costa Rica and Barcelona since her freshman year and is graduating a semester earlier than anticipated.

“I’ve never been outside of the country up until the summer before my freshmen year,” Prime said. “I went to Mexico and afterward I was obsessed with going places.”

Prime learned about different study away programs her freshmen year from Study Away Program Head Lezlie McCabe and decided to apply for scholarships for a Summer 2012 Dublin program.

“I applied for the Dublin program and my really good friend applied for the London program. We thought we wouldn’t get in,” Prime said. “When we found out we got in, we said, ‘This is it, we’re going.’ We did anything we could to make it happen.”

After her trip in Dublin, her opportunities started to pile up for her next trip to Costa Rica in the Spring 2013 semester. Being a Spanish minor helped her process and transition, especially since she was staying with a host family.

“It was awkward at first and I was also exhausted from translating so much,” Prime said.  “My host mom said she was doing this for years and said I knew a lot more Spanish than other students she had, and she had noticed an improvement in my Spanish.”

In the Summer 2014 semester, Prime studied away in Barcelona as an intern at the Gran Havana hotel for eight weeks.

A major influence on Primes’ traveling was McCabe. Even though the two were not extremely familiar before Prime’s Dublin trip, they were able to grow a bond over a couple of years.

“It feels like I have known her for so long,” McCabe said. “She has been a huge part of my experience since I started working here.”

McCabe recalls getting to know Prime her freshman year through her Dublin trip while the study away office was trying to get students to make video blogs of themselves in other countries to promote studying away.

“When my old boss and I saw that [Prime] sent us a video, we were excited and said, ‘Let’s watch it,’’ McCabe said. “It was cool to get to know her personally while she was there through these videos.”

 Originally Prime did not intend to study abroad again after her Costa Rica trip, but after receiving a couple of scholarships for funding, McCabe convinced Prime she should go on this trip.

“Her going to Barcelona was a running joke that she would go after Costa Rica, because she knew about the program for six to eight months,” McCabe said.

 This joke came from the idea that Prime’s mother may not approve of her traveling again.

“My mom made me promise her that I would graduate early if I had went to Spain. And now I am going to,” Prime said.

In the study away office, Prime was a useful source for students that wanted to study away due to her knowledge of scholarships and the processes behind them.

“I view her as a colleague working in the office,” McCabe said. “She is an asset, and sometimes I forget she’s a full-time student because we put so much on her. She is a leader and helped every student we have hired as far as training.”

Prime has worked in the office for more than two years and has gone above and beyond in her service mentoring other students, McCabe said.

“I don’t want her to graduate, but she is going to be one of those students that will always stick with me,” McCabe said.

As Prime prepares to graduate this semester, she suggests for students who want to study abroad to “go for it,” as she notices her experiences overseas has changed her.

“Everyone should try traveling out of the country at least once,” Prime said. “It teaches you a lot about yourself and shows you how to view the world differently.”

Karlina Jones can be reached at

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