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Freelance interior design photographer and VCU alumna Felicia Shelton ‘99 has traveled and lived abroad for more than 15 years. In this Q&A, she shares some pearls of wisdom about being a citizen of the world. By Nicol Tinsley

Describe your experience at VCU and how it influenced your travels abroad. My four years at VCU were a wonderful time of self-discovery and community. My interests at that time were French, linguistics, world travel, English literature and photography. These are still my interests today. Even though I’d lived abroad before studying at VCU, my professors were essential in opening my eyes to the world at large. They were unique and passionate, and I admire them to this very day. Education in its truest sense was felt at every moment of every day. What life lessons have you learned from living abroad? I love how different people are culturally, but intrinsically, we are all the same. I don’t want to romanticize Europe or other parts of the world, but I do love the slower pace of life. Abroad, people live in the moment more than in the U.S. While I love the conveniences and the efficient way we get things done here, I know it comes at a price. I try to apply the lessons that I’ve learned abroad to my daily life, and it makes me a happier person. What unique experiences do you attribute to your international travel? During the July 4th celebration at the U.S. ambassador’s residence in Paris, France, I was announced to heads of state and foreign dignitaries. That was truly a once in a lifetime experience. I later found myself working in Paris’ haute couture fashion industry and met lots of celebrities—actors, fashion designers, models, singers. I’ve been interviewed and photographed for a Harper’s Bazaar magazine article concerning expats in South Korea. I’m also a photographer, and world renowned interior designer Tom Dixon hired me to contribute photos to one of his design books! This experience launched my career as a professional photographer. I’m still in awe that I got to work with him. How have your experiences living abroad inspired you personally? I’ve learned how to adapt to any environment with ease. I’ve learned the art and importance of discretion. I truly consider myself a citizen of the world. Most importantly, I’ve learned to live in the moment, and to enjoy and respect it no matter where I am. What advice do you have for VCU students interested in studying abroad? Be brave, be adventurous. Don’t think that you can’t afford it. Today, you can’t afford NOT to study abroad. We live in a very small world, and thank goodness, more of us now understand how interconnected we are. Leaving your comfort zone here in the U.S. prepares you for life, both personally and professionally, like no other experience can. The fact that someone chooses to study abroad shows anyone—including yourself and future employers—that you are courageous, determined and ready for the world. Spring 2017

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Global Connections, issue1vol1  

A magazine created by the Global Education Office featuring stories of how VCU is connecting our students, faculty and staff to the world.

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