Ireland makes its mark on Mt. Pleasant Area graduate
At one time, it was a true happening when Morgan Zider took a trip of any distance from her home in Mt. Pleasant Township, according to her father, Jerome Zider.
“In high school, she didn't want to go anywhere,” he said, laughing.
“But once she got to college, that all changed. She was always intelligent, but not as outgoing ... until college,” he added.
When considering where she would continue her education, Zider — a 2011 Mt. Pleasant Area graduate — chose St. Vincent College in Unity.
She recently took advantage of the college's Study Abroad program to travel to American College Dublin in Ireland, where she lived for two months while learning of the rich history and heritage of the Emerald Isle and aiding the school's administrative staff, she said.
“It has made me realize that there is much more to the world, than the small town I live in, in America,” said Zider, 21, a psychology major prepared to start her senior year.
“After having to navigate my way through foreign countries, I have lost the fear that I had to go new places. I now long for the opportunity to travel and see even more places,” she said.
Fair encounter ignites interest
While attending the St. Vincent Study Abroad Fair last fall on campus, Zider first learned of the opportunity to study in Ireland from Chris Sarafian, executive vice president of American College Dublin since 2001.
As she strolled through the Robert S. Carey Center on campus, Zider and Stephanie Rukavina, her friend and fellow St. Vincent student, encountered Sarafian.
“I focus on certain institutions and develop relationships with them,” said Sarafian, who helped develop the programs allowing students at St. Vincent and Seton Hill College in Greensburg to study at the college in Ireland's capital.
“Morgan's an awesome girl. She's very organized, very mature for her age, and the thinks out of the box. Anybody willing to study abroad has to be an out-of-the-box thinker.”
Zider and Rukavina also spoke with her friend and fellow St. Vincent student Rachel McCartney, who had previously traveled to Ireland with the program, she said.
“Just learning about all that Ireland had to offer kind of drew us in,” Zider said.
Zider and Rukavina soon decided to take part in eight-week journeys to Ireland from mid-May to mid-July, while Nubia Williams and Maria Jarvis, the pair's other friends and fellow St. Vincent students, decided to travel with them while completing four-week excursions.
“That was a unique part of it, that these four young ladies wanted to experience this together,” said Sara M. Hart, director of St. Vincent College's Study Abroad program, who aided the students in arriving at their decision.
“We anticipate that study abroad will be a transformative process. So many young people who come to St. Vincent haven't had the chance to travel, let alone take courses and pursue internships,” she said.
Classes and internship prove to be enlightening
Zider, who aims to pursue a career in counseling in nutrition and exercise, particularly for those with eating disorders, focused more on Ireland's culture, history and literature, she said.
During the first four weeks of her stay, Zider took class five days per week at the campus of American College Dublin.
“One of the buildings there served as the childhood home of (famed Irish author/playwright) Oscar Wilde, and we had some classes there,” she said. “There is a statue of him right across the street.”
During the second half of her stay, Zider served as an intern for Colum Cronin, the college's dean of students, and Damien O'Farrell, its director of admissions.
“Between us both, she was heavily involved in the college's social media — its Facebook and Twitter accounts, highlighting college events and student activities, along with the benefits of studying in Ireland,” O'Farrell said. “I thought she did an excellent job. She was very proactive and she took directions very well. Everything she did was very timely, and she carried herself very professionally. We were very happy.”
Country's beauty, people beguile traveler
While taking in the Cliffs of Moher along the Atlantic coast of County Clare in the west of Ireland, to visiting Blarney Castle Estate in County Cork, Zider said she was entranced by the country's scenery and its citizens.
“In Ireland, they're really laid back, and worry free,” she said. “Any time I had to stop for directions, they were willing to help and very nice.”
While living with 30 others, Zider met and bonded with students hailing from Austria, Italy, Spain and Portugal.
“I made a few friends there, and the friends who I studied with became that much closer,” she said.
Student encourages others to study abroad
Zider said she would like to return to Ireland for graduate school.
“I never knew that you could fall in love with a place in such a short amount of time being there, but after staying in Dublin, I feel like it is home,” she said.
Zider added that she would advise other collegiate students to consider studying abroad.
“It really does help you gain a new perspective on life, and it is one of the best decisions that I have made,” she said.
A.J. Panian is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Police seek help finding missing man
- Wolf in Leechburg: ‘Get it right this time’ in the election for Pa. governor
- VA promotion for administrator stuns legislator
- ‘Rocky Horror’ takes center stage at Regent Square, Greensburg venues
- Frazier cross country letter winner stays on the run
- Linebacker Harrison coming along slowly since return to Steelers
- Mon Valley YMCA scholarship auction planned
- Pirates acquire infielder from Indians, designate Axford, Gomez for assignment
- Armstrong in test program using slag on icy roads
- Man arrested after showing up at hospital with gunshot wounds
- Many musicians enjoyed roles in legacy of Harmoneers