General Studies Student Makes Mark on Texas Tech


May 11, 2011

As her education winds down, Shannon Marchese gears up for graduation and the major life changes that will undoubtedly follow. The path that led to this juncture, and her future plans, is meticulously deliberate; Marchese is a girl that leaves little to chance.

Her ability to think forward is a personality trait that likely helped her attain some of her most notable achievements during the past several years. Not only does Marchese hold one of the highest GPA's in University College's graduating class and has been asked to join multiple honor societies, but she also landed a position on Texas Tech University's Mortar Board, which selects only the top 50 applicants from a pool of students who meet a set of highly stringent criteria.

Marchese is the whole package. Her passion for culture and language led her to University College at Texas Tech and the Bachelor of General Studies (BGS) program in January 2009, her second semester at Texas Tech. Just three years and a study abroad trip to China later and Marchese will graduate at the top of her college's class.

"I was looking online at all the majors Tech offers and I saw the general studies with global affairs and I knew immediately that it was what I wanted to do. In high school I was always interested in international affairs and Tech doesn't really offer that specifically, so when I saw general studies, I knew I could just make my own," Marchese reflected. "I'd never heard of general studies specifically, but after I looked it up, I thought it was interesting that I could pick my own three minors and make a major."

The format of the BGS turned out to be a perfect fit for Marchese, whose three areas of concentration include international studies, Asian studies and Spanish. The first area of concentration is required for her program, which emphasizes global affairs. She said the other two choices were the result of her love for learning foreign languages.

The Flower Mound, Texas resident studied Spanish since she was a seventh-grade student, but has a genuine love for Chinese culture, which led her to join the Chinese Language Association (CLA), an organization for which she became president in Fall 2009.

Under her leadership, the club began a mentoring program that enabled members to share their love of Chinese culture and knowledge of the language with other students.

"When I was president, I started a tutoring program for people who were taking Chinese or just wanted to learn," Marchese said. "I wanted to start tutoring so that people would understand that once you learn the basics, it's easy enough to learn the rest. Through CLA we could do a once-or-twice a week session for an individual or a group."

Her passion for China guided her to Study Abroad at Texas Tech, through which she traveled to the nation to study the language, culture and work in an internship position at a Beijing-based study abroad company in Fall 2010.

Because of her travels, she had to push her projected graduation date back a semester and spend a significant amount of time searching for scholarships but she said it was well worth it.

"It was amazing. China was not what I expected. People think that it will be a lot different but it really wasn't. It really was the exact same as it is here, except people speak Chinese. I got a long pretty well, despite the language barrier," Marchese said.

She said one of her fondest memories of the semester-long adventure was her group's journey to the Great Wall.

"The Wall is just such a huge, important part of history. We climbed up this rocky part so there were stones falling everywhere, so I think it was kind of dangerous. But it was so much fun. When we got to the top tower, I took a picture and thought 'This is the scene you see in movies and I'm just standing on it'," Marchese remembered.

The Study Abroad program also helped her to get a better idea of what life in China would be like, which is valuable to her as she considers moving there to teach English in the future. She is already certified to teach English as a foreign language and plans to consider the option at the next good opportunity.

For now, she plans to graduate and move back to the Dallas area, where she's been offered a post-graduate internship with Aviall, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Boeing Commercial Aviation Services. During her internship, she will assist with technical writing in the development of training materials.

The idea of graduation is bittersweet for Marchese. She is very involved in multiple student groups and organizations on campus and she said she will miss the friends she made along the way, especially her Alpha Delta Pi sorority sisters.

"I love it. I'm kind of sad to be graduating and leaving it all behind, especially because this semester I have so few classes and don't work as often, I've have more time to be more involved," Marchese said. "I like everything about Tech. There's so many things I've done, so many organizations and classes. I like everything. I think my experience has been very well-rounded and I've been really involved in a lot of things."

Her fond memories of Texas Tech extend to University College, as well. Because of her academic achievements, she will serve as the College's banner bearer for this semester's graduation ceremony. She said that she is excited about the opportunity and that a large number of family members will join her for the occasion.

"When I changed to University College, I was much more involved with the advisors," Marchese said. "For three semesters I had a scholarship from University College, so I've had a lot more interaction. I like it because it's significantly smaller than the other colleges. People actually know my name - I'm not just a person and a number."

Marchese said, because of her love of Texas Tech, the University College and her major, she does not regret any of the choices she made with her education, and she encourages other students to be similarly confident.

"My advice is just - if you want to be a general studies major, you should do it. Go with what you want and pick the minors that you want to make your major. At the end of your college career, you'll be a lot happier if you graduate with a degree you feel comfortable with and you are passionate about," Marchese concluded.

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