West Orange Resident, Centenary Student, Studies Shakespeare Studies Abroad

By: Melissa A. Kay


Sachel S. Bise, a student at Centenary University, had quite the time studying abroad at Oxford University in England this summer. Her experience was life-changing, educational, inspirational, and more than she imagined it could be. Bise is a college senior – an English major in the Secondary Education track. She looks forward to completing college and a future that is destined to be bright. She shares, “College, so far, is everything I’ve ever hoped for and more. Centenary is so special because of the support and opportunities. The professors have opened my eyes to different authors whom I now love, topics I never thought to research, and experiences I would never have had otherwise. Centenary professors challenge you to become your best, while leaving you space to grow into the most ideal version of yourself. I love teaching, and am very excited to start practicum (pre-student teaching) this semester. I am currently working on graduate school applications.”

This summer, the West Orange student left the States for the Summer Shakespeare intensive at Oxford University which gave Bise the opportunity to learn more about the playwright and poet while attending in-depth classes and exploring some fantastic places. Bise was in awe of her surroundings, from things to do and see and so on. “My favorite things were the shows and the different places I saw. I would walk every day to get to wherever I needed to, and on the way, saw the beautiful architecture and stopped in some interesting places. I also loved the New College campus because of how green and lovely it was. I took trips to several places during my time at Oxford, as well, including Windsor Castle, Bath, Stonehenge, the Isle of Wight, Cardiff (Wales), Cambridge, and Stratford-upon-Avon. I made an effort to visit every museum as part of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, as well as the schoolrooms and the MAD Museum. I also saw Taming of the Shrew at the Royal Shakespeare Company Theater (which inspired my final project!) and Pygmalion at the Attic Theatre, which is kind of a hidden gem. One of my most cherished memories will always be going to the New College Commemoration Ball. It only happens once every three years (so I was told) but it was amazing. The food was delicious, the lights were magical, and the atmosphere was wonderful in every possible way!”


Since this was Bise’s second time studying abroad, she was prepared for what was to come, not to say this experience wasn’t special. She met interesting people from all over the world and can now offer firsthand advice for those interesting in doing something similar. She advises, “Work hard and study hard, but leave time to enjoy the surroundings. I experienced many firsts during my time abroad (first opera, first time to Wales, first time to Stratford, first birthday without my family there, etc.). It will be scary at first, but everything will be okay. Make a list of everything you want to do, research the area and places you wish to visit, and plan!”


Each day of the six-week program had its individuality, but Bise summed up her educational experience as such, “Every week, my course load consisted of reading two plays, writing a seven page paper on the topic of my choice, and reading critical and historic commentary. I spent about a day and a half reading and planning, then wrote my papers in the New College library over the course of five to eight hours. Working in the New College library was an experience on its own because it gave me the atmosphere I needed to produce a top paper. After the paper was written, I would let it sit until the next day when I would return to it to edit. The final project was a little more intense. I brought in some of my education background and designed a presentation and lesson focused on exploring the purpose for Shakespeare writing his female characters the way he does while bringing in elements of setting and how that relates to the text. It was interesting for both myself and my tutor.”


As Patricia Mahaffey, Coordinator of Study Away and Internships at Centenary explains, “The study abroad experience allows students to understand and appreciate another culture while enhancing their confidence and independent thinking. Students make memories and friends that will last a lifetime. However, the most important outcome of studying abroad is the impact on career goals, marketable skills and employability. Employers look very favorably on a study abroad experience when evaluating the resumes of job candidates.”


This study abroad program is one of Centenary Future U’s future-forward approach to higher education. Students are prepared for their future thanks to the rich resources the University provides. 


Naturally, Bise highly recommends the study abroad program for other students who are able to embark on a similar adventure. “I would absolutely recommend this program to everyone. It was one of the most transformative experiences I have ever had abroad, and I wish I could go back!”


As for what the future holds, Bise would like to become a professor with a focus on British literature. She hopes to become a published author and has a “secret project” up her sleeve. For now, she’s applying to several doctoral programs this semester, and if not accepted, will get to work as a teacher upon graduating then return to school for her master’s degree.

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