LSU is consistently recognized as one of the most affordable, highest value colleges in the U.S. Even so, six years of out-of-state tuition can be a substantial investment.

Landscape architecture student Kevin McKee, from Houston, said that receiving the Marguerite Conrad Memorial Scholarship allowed him to travel with six other students in Professor Bruce Sharky’s studio class on a two-week trip to Sichuan Province, China.

“It’s something I was really looking forward to,” McKee said. “This is my sixth year of college overall. It’s been a large burden on my family and me. But I know that what I’m doing is worth it.”

The class traveled to Ya’an, a city that, like most of China, is being heavily influenced by urbanization. As part of a new cooperative agreement, they met with students from Sichuan Agricultural University to collaborate on a semester-long landscape design project. The students worked in teams to find ways to maintain and preserve farmland in the midst of urbanization, and increase efficiency and production in Ya’an.

McKee shared about the trip, “I got a new outlook on the landscape architecture process. Collaborating with other students from a different country in the same professional sense [provides] two outlooks. It’s something I wasn’t exposed to before.”

Throughout the fall semester, the two classes maintained communication through email and presented designs to each other via Skype.

McKee said the experience taught him to always be open-minded and ready to “jump in,” and to be accepting and welcoming of others’ perspectives. “It’s good to have multiple outlooks. You learn more.”

The Marguerite Conrad Memorial Scholarship was established in 2003 as a non-endowed fund to be awarded to one student. Over the past decade,
donors have continued contributions to the scholarship, enabling more students to expand their education through travel abroad.

After he graduates in May, McKee plans to move back to Texas and work with a firm in residential landscape design. His experiences at LSU have affirmed his career decision. He shared of his hands-on learning, “This is what I want to be doing.”

 

Published in Cornerstone Winter 2013 and Spring 2014.