Online courses help University College student pursue global education

Some people choose to study internationally focused majors because they’d like to see the world. MTSU junior Svetlana Baranova of Murfreesboro chose her major — Professional Studies with a concentration in International Organizational Leadership — because she already has, and she’s loved every second of it.

Baranova was born in Russia and visited Egypt, Singapore, Turkey and a handful of other countries as a child. But her biggest adventure to date came when 5-year-old Svetlana and her mother moved to the United States. Her mother’s careful planning and ambition inspires her to do the same.

MTSU junior Svetlana Baranova
A native of Russia, MTSU junior Svetlana Baranova of Murfreesboro, Tenn., has taken advantage of the flexibility of University College’s online courses to stay on track toward a Professional Studies degree with a concentration in international organizational leadership.

“My mom has always told me to never stop reaching for my wants and my goals in life,” Baranova said. “Even if it’s scary, I need to go for it because if we do not try, we will regret it later on.”

In high school, Baranova started to realize that her love for travel could become part of her career someday. She was also fairly sure she wanted to work in a leadership role since she enjoyed leading teams during group projects and keeping everyone on schedule.

So when it came time to choose her major at MTSU, she found the international organizational leadership concentration within University College’s Professional Studies program and knew it was perfect for her. “After looking at the courses, I realized this is what I loved doing and it was what I needed to major in,” she said.

She also chose the international organization leadership concentration for the wide-ranging career possibilities it offers. She noted that her Teams Management and Decision Making course helped her understand how leaders in a company make hard decisions because of the psychology of leadership. Throughout her time in these classes, she’s considered opportunities in several fields — including tourism, leadership and management — in several different countries.

Online classes put her ‘in the zone’

Baranova said she’s immensely grateful for her experiences with traveling, having learned early on to accept different types of people and learn about their cultures. Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic put a stop to some of her more recent travel plans, but she took that time to work at multiple jobs on campus and at a local restaurant to save up for future trips.

With so many time commitments, Baranova appreciates the fact that her major is available online and allows for a flexible schedule.

“Online classes really allow me to get in the zone and handle my schoolwork because I dedicate the time to make it happen,” she said. “When I am choosing classes now, I am doing my best to take all online classes because I’ve grown to love it so much.”

Baranova’s passion is reflected in her academic success, and she was recently awarded one of several MT Engage scholarships. Baranova’s time as vice president of leadership in MTSU’s DECA chapter, a student leadership and entrepreneurship training organization, made her a natural choice for the scholarship.

MT Engage is MTSU’s latest Quality Enhancement Program, which seeks to get students actively involved in their college education experience through strategic use of technology, hands-on activities and other techniques to keep them physically and mentally connected in their classes.

“By identifying and reflecting on the connections between her experiences, coursework, and professional goals, Svetlana’s ePortfolio offers readers a strong sense of who she is and what she hopes to accomplish as a student and in her future profession,” said Julie Myatt, MT Engage director.

With graduation on the horizon, Baranova is planning for her next adventure, already reaching out to graduate programs and searching for the one that fits her interests. She says she is still going to find the time to travel despite her busy schedule because her global perspective is what drives her to succeed.

“Traveling shows what textbooks cannot,” she said. “I need to pursue that in order for me to progress in the classroom as well. Traveling allows me to see the world from different perspectives, and that’s so important in a future leadership position.”

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