Student Profile - Madeline Stephens

Madeline Stephens, a senior electrical engineering major, traveled to Dublin, Ireland, to study at University College Dublin (UCD).

Throughout her studies at Baylor, Madeline has always had an enthusiastic interest in renewable energy. Last year she wrote a paper analyzing the renewable energy initiatives in Ireland, and now she’s exploring that passion first-hand.

Q: What influenced your decision to study abroad?

A: I became interested in studying abroad because of the opportunity to live in and experience a new country in a deeper and more meaningful way than conventional travel allows. Plus, I was intrigued by the prospect of being exposed to the engineering discipline through the lens of different societal, economic and cultural implications.

Q: Why did you choose Dublin as your destination?

A: I chose to study in Dublin because I have felt a profound connection to Ireland my entire life. With my family’s Irish heritage and my admiration for the country’s natural beauty, traveling to Ireland has become a personal pilgrimage for me.

Q: How does class structure and studying abroad differ from your experience at Baylor?

A: Unlike my experience at Baylor, there are very few homework assignments given at UCD, so you have to take practicing and studying into your own hands! It’s nice because it offers a bit more flexibility but also requires a lot of self-motivation and discipline to get work done. Because many bachelor’s degrees in Ireland are finished in three years, my senior-level Baylor classes correspond to master’s level classes there, which is both exciting and daunting. I’m comforted knowing my Baylor education is preparing me well for a career at home or abroad.

Q: What has been the most challenging aspect of studying abroad?

A: By far, the most difficult aspect of studying abroad is just learning how to live and function in an entirely new environment. Menial things like transport, grocery shopping and laundry can become major hurdles when you are unfamiliar with the country and way of life!

Q: What will be your biggest takeaways from the educational aspect?

A: In my time here, I’ve had the opportunity to study power and renewable energy much more. This has helped me decide what aspect of electrical engineering I enjoy the most and could see myself building a career out of. By being taught and assessed differently than at home, I think I am developing different ways to address and solve engineering problems. This newfound adaptability will undoubtedly be an asset when I return to my studies at Baylor.

Q: Why do you think it is important for students to study abroad if given the opportunity?

A: I think it is vital to take advantage of studying abroad because it allows you to learn so much about yourself, your major and the world! Being put in an unfamiliar environment requires you to hone skills you wouldn’t necessarily be using at home. I also think being exposed to different viewpoints and challenges within your field of study can deeply enrich your understanding of your major and can help you figure out how you could apply your degree in the future. Speaking for myself, I have been inspired by my time here to explore opportunities in engineering that can make an impact on the global scale.