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NSE offers opportunities for exploration

It’s been around since 1968, yet few people know about it. It is National Student Exchange, and it is one of the best kept secrets in higher education.

That is something Jimmie Gahagan wants to change.

As director of the University of South Carolina’s Office of Student Engagement, Gahagan oversees the university’s participation in NSE, a program that allows students to attend college for a semester, year or summer at one of nearly 200 universities in the United States, U.S. territories (Guam, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico) and Canada.

“National Student Exchange is a wonderful and enriching opportunity available to students,” Gahagan says. “Many students say it is the best experience they have had during their time at Carolina.”

Gahagan says students choose NSE for various reasons. Some students want to have an out-of-state college experience, while others want to explore a different part of the country, be close to relatives or investigate options for internships, graduate school or a potential place to enter the workforce after college.

Damian Jones, a junior accounting and finance major from Bamberg, is studying management science this year at California State University at San Bernardino. He settled on California because of his ultimate goal: to be a CPA or a financial consultant for an entertainment company.

“I chose California State University at San Bernardino mostly for its location,” Jones says. “It seemed to be in the middle of everything, and it is one of the best schools for business in California.”

Jones says he is part of tight-knit group of 15 NSE students who have gone snowboarding and traveled to the Grand Canyon and San Francisco. While studying in the Golden State, Jones had his first internship, preparing tax returns at VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance).

It was listening to a fellow student talk about her NSE experience that led Jessica Taylor to study last fall at the University of Hawaii Manoa. Taylor, a senior hotel, restaurant and tourism management major from Columbia, lived in downtown Honolulu and took accounting and tourism classes, attended college football games and explored the beauty of the Hawaiian islands.

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