As the University of Southern Indiana’s 2018 year’s Distinguished Trustee’s Merit Award winner, Elle Floyd knew she would take the road less traveled. Graduating this May from the Romain College of Business, she was recognized for outstanding achievement in not only her major of economics but in the liberal arts and sciences, that form the core curriculum. Each College at USI nominated one student for the honor, which includes the $1,500 award.
A trip to Myanmar as a high school student opened her eyes to the opportunities the world offered her. As she navigated her way through college, she tried on five majors on her way to find her mission and purpose. She arrived at USI as a transfer student with the intentions of being a nurse.
As she delved into USI’s core curriculum, she took classes that cultivated her critical and analytical thinking skills. In her liberal arts classes, her professors opened doors in teaching classes about social responsibility, cultural sensitivity and emotional intelligence. In her core class, Intro to Macroeconomics, she saw how a degree in business could apply to her desire to make an impact in Myanmar. Classes taught by Dr. Daria Sevastianova showed Elle a whole new way to look at the world through the lens of economics.
“I wanted to study material that was both academically challenging and related to international issues. Economics solves real world problems. It offers solutions to problems in monetary funds, trade issues, the labor market and poverty. I loved putting all the pieces together as seeing how they were related.”
Returning to Myanmar five more times, Elle she worked in orphanages, a restoration center for victims of human trafficking and in microfinance lending.
Elle traveled with Dr. Sevastianova on a short-term study abroad global engagement initiative to Osnabruck, Germany. At Hochschule Osnabruck University of Applied Sciences, she found that her world view grew exponentially as she spent time in and out of the classroom with her fellow USI and international students. She took Economics of Globalization which included a variety of topics that were directly related to her time in Myanmar, including poverty traps, and the effects of globalization. “I was completely surprised that a trip to Europe could change my life in such a huge way after I had already experienced such an immense life change in Myanmar.”
Between her classes and her experiences out in the world and with advice from her USI mentors, Elle learned that there is an infinite amount of opportunities out in the world for an economics major with a desire to serve.
This summer she will earn her TESOL (Teaching English as a Second/Other Language) certificate at USI to enable her to teach English overseas. She will also work with Dr. Sevastianova as a program assistant with the study abroad program to Osnabruck. Her time at USI will culminate as she goes abroad again as an English teacher with the English Language Institute of China. She will work with refugees in five countries around Asia, the Middle East and north Africa.
Whether the road less traveled will lead Elle back to Myanmar is anyone’s guess, but she is keeping her options open. During the next phase in her life, she sees opportunities all over the world, thanks to the global way of thinking she learned in her economics classes. “I’m very excited for the opportunity to impact students and refugees lives around the world. I’m interested in pursuing work that promotes education and human development. The English language is a key skill that significantly helps vulnerable populations to better opportunities. My time at USI and the liberal arts education I received here challenged me to be a part of something bigger than myself.”