Mississippi State introduces innovative Bulldog Experience initiative

The power of experiential learning is being harnessed by Mississippi State’s new initiative, offering students the ability to shape their futures in a transformative way.

Through the Bulldog Experience program, undergraduate students are breaking free from traditional classroom education and engaging in immersive activities that foster personal growth, intellectual development, and professional preparedness. As the university’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), the Bulldog Experience initiative seeks to enhance student learning across the entire institution.

“Bulldog Experience goes beyond just earning a degree,” stated MSU President Mark E. Keenum. “It is a journey of transformation that empowers our students to connect their experiences with their academic pursuits. By developing skills and encouraging hands-on involvement, this program prepares students to thrive as leaders, innovators, and problem solvers in a world that is constantly evolving.”

Building upon Mississippi State’s long-standing tradition of experiential learning, the Bulldog Experience program provides students with a wide range of opportunities to engage with the world. These opportunities include first-year seminars, undergraduate research, service and community-based learning, study abroad or study away programs, internships, and co-operative education.

The initiative seeks to enrich and enhance students’ core curriculum by facilitating their involvement in activities such as undergraduate research, volunteering in the community, or joining campus organizations. Students can then create an engagement portfolio that highlights their experiences, ranging from basic to more intensive capstone projects, senior design courses, or employment opportunities.

“Through personal reflection and self-discovery, students gain a deeper understanding of their strengths, interests, and potential,” explained Keenum. “The Bulldog Experience is a commitment to providing our students with the best possible education and is a testament to our unwavering belief in their abilities.”

Sam Stewart, a student in Mississippi State’s College of Education, can attest to the program’s impact. While most of his college career was spent in the classroom, a transformative eight-day educational psychology course in Seville, Spain opened his eyes to unimaginable possibilities.

“It was truly one of the most incredible experiences of my life,” Stewart shared. “This opportunity allowed me to develop a new level of confidence as I traveled internationally and studied alongside around 40 of my peers from Mississippi State, ranging from freshmen to graduate students.”

Key faculty members, like marine geophysicist/oceanographer Jonathan Harris, contribute significantly to the success of the Bulldog Experience program.

Harris, who transitioned from the oil and gas industry to the world of marine education, joined MSU’s Northern Gulf Institute in 2016 as the outreach and education program director. In this role, he exposes middle school, high school, and college students to marine science, technology, and exploration.

“The students we work with are the future of our workforce, and it is crucial to involve them in science from a young age,” Harris emphasized. “Experiential learning opportunities provided through NGI’s outreach programs introduce students to the world of science and open doors to incredible opportunities, adventures, and careers.”

To explore how Mississippi State University students are transforming their experiences into new knowledge, visit the Bulldog Experience website at https://www.qep.msstate.edu/.

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