April 22, 2019  

Current weather

Clear sky, 73.4 °F

USM Student Wins Scholarship, Airfare in Study Abroad Competition

Main Content
USM senior Michelle Le

Michelle Le’s love for The University of Southern Mississippi; zest for life; and thirst for adventure fueled a creative spark that has helped her secure much-needed funding for a study abroad program next month in Italy.

Le, a senior marketing major at USM, captured the top prize in the #PictureMeAbroad contest sponsored by Diversity Abroad with her video submission titled, “Hey Ya’ll.” With the win she collected a $500 scholarship and round-trip international airfare provided by StudentUniverse.

A first-generation Vietnamese college student, Le said that she gasped and teared up upon learning that she had won the coveted prize.

“I was studying with a friend in Scianna Hall’s study rooms when I checked the email,” she said. “I was anxious to see who had won, and I was so relieved and thankful all at once to find out I had won. I have so many people to thank from the people that helped me record the video to the people who stayed up until 2 a.m. to comment on my video, making sure that I had the most comments.”

Le, a member of the University's Honors College, estimates that her video submission took about two hours to record, then another three-to-four hours for editing and creation of the voiceover. View her video here.

Comments and likes were contributing factors in the competition, but creativity also played a significant role in the outcome. Dr. Daniel Norton, associate vice president for International Programs at USM, said that Le’s infectious personality made her a natural for the #PictureMeAbroad contest.

“Michelle currently serves as a peer advisor in our Office of Study Abroad and we are proud of her singular achievement in winning the grand prize,” said Norton. “We wish that we could bottle her incredible enthusiasm for study abroad and for USM.”

A native of Hartford, Conn., Le attended Saint Martin High School in Biloxi, Miss. Her parents – Dinh Le (father) and Hai Le (mother) – immigrated to the United States from Vietnam. The youngest of four siblings, Le’s older brothers were born in Hong Kong and Vietnam respectively, while her older sister was also born in Hartford.

Le will spend two-and-a-half weeks overseas in May participating in the “Business and Culture in Italy” program. She hopes to gain significant insight into how businesses operate in that part of Europe. Her long-range goals involve pursuing a career in the fashion industry where she can create marketing strategies for new clothing lines.

“Every country operates differently. We often see companies only for their products and don’t learn about the process to make it; where the material comes from, etc.,” she said. “Visiting these global businesses will be exciting to see the behind-the-scenes work that consumers do not always see and know.”

Much of her time in Italy will be split between Florence and Venice, but Le has a couple of historic sites that she hopes to visit before returning to the states.

"A couple of must-sees on my list are the Vatican and Trevi Fountain in Rome," she said. "The beautiful infrastructure and history of the Vatican is something I look forward to experiencing. The Trevi Fountain is a lankmark that I personally want to see for myself."

To learn more about Study Abroad programs at USM, call 601.266.4344 or visit: https://www.usm.edu/study-abroad