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Holly Penta
Holly Penta
Catelyn Errington
Catelyn Errington

By Abby Weingarten

From the bayou to the bayfront, three Louisiana students opted for an opportunity to be temporary Novo Collegians this fall through the National Student Exchange (NSE) program.

Holly Penta, Noah Glass and Catelyn Errington all arrived at New College in August from the Louisiana Scholars’ College, part of the Northwestern State University of Louisiana in Natchitoches, Louisiana. With pandemic-related travel restrictions currently keeping students from learning abroad, the concept of spending a semester at a college within the United States has been an ideal alternative.

“Every year, we enjoy receiving students from all parts of the U.S. and Canada who come here to enjoy the New College experience for a semester or two (and often wish they could stay longer),” said Florence Zamsky, Ph.D., the assistant director of off-campus study/study abroad programs, and the NSE and EcoLeague coordinator for New College. “At a time when study-abroad options are extremely limited, I encourage students to consider all that the NSE has to offer. Intercultural exchange can happen anywhere you go, and NSE is a fantastic study-away program.”

New College became a member of the NSE in 2000 and, since then, there have been 279 outgoing students and 130 incoming students in the program.

Penta, who was born in St. Petersburg and adores Southwest Florida, always wanted a chance to study at New College—and this turned out to be her year.

“I visit the area almost every year and I’ve always wanted to come back for college. I love the idea of small classes and the opportunity to get to know the professors,” Penta said. “I love the bayfront and being able to experience all that Sarasota has to offer—like the Ringling, Mote Marine, and kayaking at the waterfront on campus. Unfortunately, I was only able to come here for the fall semester but I wish I could stay longer.”

While she is here, Penta is taking art history, literature, and writing and rhetoric classes. She is also participating in a newspaper writing and production tutorial, for which she is working as a staff writer for The Catalyst (New College’s student-run newspaper).

“I like being able to take a wide range of writing classes, or just classes in general, that are not offered at my home university,” Penta said. “I go to sunset at the bay and to the beach multiple times a week. I love the environment here, and I appreciate how New College encourages and allows me to get to experience all of these things.”

Errington agrees.

“New College is located in a beautiful area,” she said, adding that she is taking courses in creative writing, advanced Latin and chamber music. “I also appreciate the academically-minded environment, and the small discussion- and lecture-style classes. The subjects are unique and taught by very engaging professors, and it certainly helps that I get to study on such a nice campus.”

The exchange experience is as fulfilling for students from other universities as it is for New College students. Throughout the past two decades with NSE, New College students have taken courses in journalism in Ohio, astrophysics in Canada, native studies in Alaska, dance in New York, art in Pennsylvania and geology in Montana.

“They have also enjoyed activities such as rock climbing, cross-country skiing, or playing on the host university’s club soccer team,” Zamsky said. “What I often hear from students who have participated in NSE is that their exchange both complemented their New College experience and made them appreciate New College even more.”

In fact, two Novo Collegians are studying off campus this fall with NSE and EcoLeague. Macie Robison, a third-year political science/environmental studies student, traveled to the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS-Juneau) with NSE. And Lily Tanner, an environmental studies/theatre, dance and performance studies thesis student, went to Alaska Pacific University (APU) with EcoLeague.

“By participating in an NSE exchange, while paying New College tuition, students gain access to exciting new courses taught in a completely different setting,” Zamsky said.

The NSE is now accepting applications for Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 (February 15 is the priority application deadline).

For any questions about requirements, tuition, financial aid or other other issues related to studying off campus, visit abroad.ncf.edu or contact Zamsky at fzamsky@ncf.edu

Abby Weingarten is the senior editor in the Office of Communications & Marketing.