Dr. Leslie Cordie, Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Foundations, Leadership, and Technology (EFLT), recently returned from her second visit to the Caribbean nation of St. Kitts – Nevis where she was serving as a Fulbright U.S. Scholar. For her Flex Fulbright award, Dr. Cordie worked with colleagues at her host institution, Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College (CFBC), on the design and development of a new degree completion program for a Bachelors of Business Administration. This program would represent the first full 4-year program at the College that was fully developed and owned by the College. The purpose of the program is to support students who would otherwise have to leave the island to complete their degrees, thus both reducing costs, serving a broader population, and linking directly to the needs of local businesses and the nation’s economy.
During her initial visit, in Spring 2021, Cordie collected data on the need, potential demand, available academic resources, and financial viability for the program. She and her CFBC colleagues used this information to develop a curriculum model and submit a program proposal to the College’s Board of Governors. Cordie’s second visit involved work to gain final approval of the program and planning for an initial launch, once approved. During both visits, Dr. Cordie interacted with numerous stakeholders to gain support for the program, including several high-level government officials. Among the key stakeholders, Dr. Cordie interacted with were the Minister of Education, the Minister of Talent Development, several members of the Board of Governors for CFBC, and representatives of local companies.
While working with colleagues at the host institution is the primary purpose of the Fulbright, cultural exchange is viewed as a key component of the award.
“For me, the opportunity to become immersed in a new culture, be accepted as part of a diverse community, and to develop life-long friendships was truly an exceptional experience” said Dr. Cordie.
During her time on St. Kitts, Cordie participated in several international Toastmasters evenings, was invited to give a reading on 3rd Annual Poetry night sponsored by UNESCOR, published four podcasts from interviews with islanders, attended numerous local gatherings, advised on dissertation projects, and participated in the formation of an organization for support of island women. With the relationships she has developed, Cordie has worked to establish direct links between AU and multiple institutions on St. Kitts – Nevis. In addition, she is currently working with colleagues to develop a Study Abroad course to introduce Auburn students to the island and its culture.
Looking back at the entire Fulbright experience, Dr. Cordie noted, “The Fulbright has been one of the most personal and professionally rewarding opportunities of my career.”