Inspiration Abroad

KENNESAW, Ga. | Oct 7, 2019

Scholarship recipient studies in Ireland

A journey 3,800 miles from campus confirmed to Kennesaw State junior Brianna McBride that she is on the right path.  

Brianna McBride
Brianna McBride
McBride, an interactive design major, spent five weeks in Ireland on a Gilman International Scholarship, a U.S. State Department grant that helps students of limited financial means study or intern abroad. McBride immersed herself in Ireland’s culture, visited historic sites and took classes in art appreciation and post-colonial literature.

“What I like about my major is that it’s both academic and artistic, and through this experience I was engaged in both, so that really helped affirm my choice of major,” said McBride, a KSU Honors College student. “The entire experience abroad really helped me expand how I see the world. I’m bringing that new perspective into my work and into my classrooms.”

Interactive design is the practice of designing interactive digital systems, services and environments such as websites or apps. KSU’s degree program in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences utilizes an interdisciplinary, hands-on approach emphasizing that design is a process rather than a product. 

McBride had that in mind during one of her favorite experiences in Ireland, seeing a collection of intricately-designed vestments that had been made centuries ago for royals and bishops. The ornate garments, a sign of status at the time, are so heavy that they required the efforts of several people to carry them, she said.

“It took years to craft such intricate items back then, but we have ways to do things much more quickly now, and therefore we can make them more accessible to everyone,” McBride said. “Interactive design is all about putting the user first. It’s going into the population and saying, ‘What do people need and how do they need it?’”

The trip to Ireland also rekindled McBride’s interest in art. For her final project in the art appreciation class, McBride was inspired by photos she took while attending the Dublin Pride event celebrating LGBTQ acceptance. She created Portraits of Pride, a collection of eight portraits made with colored pencils, markers, pens and graphite.

“I really felt like a part of the community at that event because there was such a welcoming, loving energy, and I turned the photos that had the most impact on me into portraits,” McBride said. “It had been a while since I’d done traditional art – I’m all about pixels and digital spaces now – so it was really nice to get back into using my hands to create something. I ended up being really proud of that project.” 

A self-described low-income student, McBride had not previously had the opportunity to travel abroad. She thanked the Department of Technical Communication and Interactive Design, the Honors College and KSU’s Education Abroad Office for helping her in every step along the way of earning the Gilman Scholarship.

After returning from Ireland, McBride resumed being an actively involved student at Kennesaw State. In her role as lead ambassador for the Honors College, for example, McBride said she enjoys attending events where she can “talk up KSU” to students considering attending the university.

“I absolutely adore KSU,” McBride said. “I love talking to students who are considering coming to KSU and giving them my impression of it. Talking to the students is what really helped me get an idea of what KSU is like, and so I try to do the same to other potential students.”

—Paul Floeckher

Photography by David Caselli


Related Stories

A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 43,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit