June 7, 2018
International woman of academia: Kylie Cracknell
Some college experiences are ephemeral, more fodder for the scrapbook and the future reunion than anything else.
But some can shape lives.
Take Kyle Cracknell’s decision to study abroad for a semester during her junior year at FMU. That experience is now her life.
Kylie Cracknell, a Political Science graduate from Murrells Inlet, S.C., got her first taste of the FMU International Program when she studied abroad in 2015. Now, shortly after walking across the stage at FMU, she’ll be walking into an airport to board a flight for De Montfort University in Leicester, England where she will continue her education as a graduate student.
It’s an interesting twist after four years of hard work for Cracknell, but not an entirely unexpected one. She came to Francis Marion knowing she’d spend part of her career overseas.
Cracknell, whose father is from England, was raised with idea that travel and adventure should be a part of life.
“When I was looking at colleges, one of the biggest things I was considering was the study abroad program and FMU has one of the greatest study abroad programs in the state,” Cracknell says. “When I came to FMU, that was my goal. To be able to participate in the study abroad program.”
After embedding herself in campus life — is a an FMU resident advisor, a member of the Student Government Association, the Model United Nations team, the South Carolina Student Legislature, the College Republicans and more — Cracknell was ready to head overseas. She settled on De Montfort University.
As is the case with many Francis Marion students traveling abroad, an FMU “REAL grant” (Ready to Experience Applied Learning) helped defray the cost of her travel. Cracknell paid no no extra tuition. That’s how FMU’s exchange program works. Exchange partners honor each other’s tuitions.
Cracknell enrolled as a student at De Montfort University in the fall of 2016. She had traveled extensively with her father, but that trip was her first international journey on her own. That made her a little nervous, but it all worked out.
“From the minute the plane landed in London, it was just an incredible experience,” she says. “It helped me develop skills that I didn’t think I had and helped me grow so much as a person.”
Upon her return, Kylie could only think of one thing: returning to England.
She immersed herself in Francis Marion’s International Program, assisting Drs. Mark Blackwell and Will Daniel as only an experienced student could. This led to the establishment of FMU’s International Domestic Student Ambassadors organization, which helps foreign exchange students visiting FMU navigate their time here with the help of domestic FMU students familiar with the International Program.
Cracknell’s time at Francis Marion is completed, but her time in academia is just beginning. She’ll enroll again at De Monfort in the fall where she’ll begin pursuing a master’s degree in politics and international relations. After that, she plans to continue living in London.
The three months Kylie spent overseas shaped her college experience more than any other singular event and it’s something she’ll never forget.
“College is what you make it,” she says. “If you decide to put yourself out there and throw yourself into these sometimes uncomfortable situations, that’s where you’re going to grow the most.”