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Released January14, 2004

By David Tisdale

HATTIESBURG -- Adrienne Hicks fell in love with Paris, and her affection has been returned.

After participating in The University of Southern Mississippi's study abroad program in France through the Center for International and Continuing Education, Hicks, a graduate of the Southern Miss marketing program, has returned to France to help other students enjoy the same rewards she received through an international education.

Her mastery of the language and passion for French culture helped secure her the position of assistant to the director for international relations at Ecole Superieure du Commerce Exterieur (ESCE), a French business school. At ESCE, she helps other students who want to enrich their personal and professional lives through international exchange and study.

"I'm thrilled," Hicks said of her position at ESCE. "I took the job to help others benefit from international education, and for the opportunities to travel."

Hicks' duties include the coordination of incoming students at ESCE, assisting them with their transition to the school and helping the school develop a strategic plan for programs both internally and externally. ESCE is also examining the possibility of offering an MBA program with an international emphasis, which Hicks would assist in developing.

Yves Marmiesse, director of international programs at ESCE, said Hicks stood out among other exchange students during her year at ESCE. He said Hicks has the personality and maturity necessary to deal with cross-cultural communication essential to her position at the school.

"We had been working all year long on a number of development projects, such as summer programs, residential programs, master courses, all of them to be delivered in English in our school for international students, and it became quite clear that our office needed the support of someone who had both the experience of the American higher education system and the understanding of our own organization," Marmiesse said. "Adrienne, at that time, was looking for an opportunity to start her professional career in France and it seemed to me quite obvious that she had the perfect profile for what we had in mind."

As a student at Southern Miss, Hicks took two semesters of French at the Hattiesburg campus, and was encouraged by her professors to continue her language studies abroad. "They told me if I wanted to master the language, I needed to go there (France)," Hicks said.

"It's amazing for me to be able to go there and communicate," she said. "That's been the biggest accomplishment, to understand what's going on and communicate with other people."

Susan Steen, director of the Southern Miss CICE, praised Hicks' pursuit of additional study of the French language to master her skills. She said Hicks' selection for the job at ESCE is evidence of her commitment to advanced language study and Southern Miss' relationship with ESCE.

"Their hiring of Adrienne is a testament to her language and intercultural skills, and to ESCE's high regard for the caliber of students USM sends there through our exchange program," Steen said. "Adrienne is immensely capable and enthusiastic, and she'll be an asset to their office. In fact, on her first day of work (Jan.12), she had to contact me about one of ESCE's students studying at Southern Miss this spring. She thought it only fitting that her first official task in France involved Southern Miss."

Dr. Tim Hudson, provost of Southern Miss' Hattiesburg campus and executive director of the CICE, said the relationship between ESCE and Southern Miss goes back more than a decade. "We wanted to have an opportunity for professionals to have access to an education through a global marketplace when we established the exchange program with ESCE," Hudson said. "It's turned out to be a wonderful relationship, and Adrienne is an example of that."

Hicks said she looked forward to returning to Paris. Though complete with the hustle and bustle of a large international city, Paris, Hicks said, is "a very laid-back atmosphere that you can submerge yourself into."

"There's never a dull moment in Paris, with its diversity of culture and the arts," she said. "There's always something to do."

Hicks first traveled to London through the CICE study abroad programs, and said the initial experience changed her forever. "You are opened to a world that's not your own," she said of the experience of international travel. "You're exposed to so much diversity."

Having an open mind toward other cultures and ways of thinking is the key to gaining the maximum benefit from international travel and education, she said. "You can't expect people to conform to your ways," she said. "You have to be open to other people's opinions, and not stereotype, and if you can do that, it will definitely change you forever, and your outlook on life will be so different."



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January 16, 2004 12:33 PM