The Necessary Pinnacle of the Graduate Experience Julie Schulte April 18, 2011 In today’s environment it is critical that business leaders have a global perspective. This cannot be done by reading alone; it must be experienced firsthand. There is less and less distinction between domestic and international issues in business and the boundaries are becoming more blurred. It is a fundamental reality today that we all live, work and compete in a global environment.There are a multitude of benefits that a study abroad experience can provide an MBA student: having a good understanding of the global community; being aware of the risks and opportunities this may provide; and being comfortable operating in the global environment to name a few.I believe that there is a unique aspect to the study abroad program for working professionals enrolled in the Evening UST MBA program—the study abroad experiences were the necessary pinnacle of the graduate experience for the working MBA student.These experiences abroad encouraged a more in depth understanding of the course concepts through real life application and fostered an environment where group assignments were more than fleeting partnerships. Lifelong friendships were built abroad as there was a sense of kinship in the experience and the learning. Building those relationships and the global and cultural connection will definitely be among my most memorable experiences in graduate school. The study abroad experiences alone made the entire challenge of working while going to school worth it.I participated in the London Financial Risk in a Global Perspective and the Hong Kong Financial Services courses. I am graduating in May and if I had it to do over again, I would do everything I could to participate in more study abroad offerings. There is nothing more gratifying, grounding and eye opening than first hand exposure to relevant cultures in the global community. Although I left both geographies and experiences with more questions than answers, I have been provided with a plethora of resources and contacts that I can reach out to in the future.The study abroad programs I have experienced at St. Thomas have added enormous value to me both personally and in the eyes of family, friends and co-workers. Personally, I feel more confident and prepared to participate in driving growth and strategic direction for my company in today’s global environment having gained these experiences. The programs are part of what continues to validate St. Thomas as a leading edge, high quality graduate program. The high profile of the guest speakers, the organization of the experience abroad and the highly principled programs leave everyone feeling like they can make difference in the world. I am truly grateful for the opportunities.This post is by Julie Schulte, an Evening UST MBA student who participated in several UST J-Term Study Abroad trips and shares here her reflection on the value of her experiences.