Three sisters form Wroxton College legacy
The Wroxton College experience is all in the family for (clockwise from L to R): Haylie, Allison and Madeleine Morales. Haylie sits outside of iconic Wroxton Abbey during her Fall 2013 semester abroad; Allison ventures to Barcelona on travel break in Spring 2012 and Madeleine spies Big Ben in London on a weekend trip in Fall 2009. (Photos courtesy of Haylie, Allison and Madeleine Morales)
By Kenna Caprio
“Who doesn’t love a British accent?” jokes Madeleine Morales (BA’11, MA’12 in accounting). She and her sisters seriously took a shine to more than just the accents abroad when they each studied at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Wroxton College for a semester.
“Most Wroxton College students return from their semester abroad brimming with enthusiasm. So it’s easy to see how this excitement, and a desire for shared experiences, could pass from sibling to sibling,” says Brian Swanzey, FDU’s director of study abroad.
The Fall 2009, Spring 2012 and Fall 2013 semesters each saw a Morales sister at Wroxton.
“Over the years I’ve had a number of alumni send their children to Wroxton, but the Moraleses are the first set of three sisters to attend, I believe, in Wroxton history. It comes as a bonus that they’re three of the most likeable people you’ll ever meet,” continues Swanzey.
Madeleine — the eldest — found out about the Wroxton experience through her freshman roommate and thought, why not? The history of the Abbey appealed to her, as did possibility of traveling with a friend. She wanted to spend more than just a week or two abroad, and knew that Wroxton could provide the perfect outlet.
From favorite weekend trips in Edinburgh, Scotland and Paris, France, Madeleine savored the chance to take it all in.
“We didn’t really have cell phone access and coming back, I didn’t need it as much. At Wroxton, I tried not to be on the Internet and instead take the time to explore,” says Madeleine, 25. “It’s just about learning who you are, what your interests are and bigger things than your home or town.”
She expressed those thoughts to her family and shared photographs with her younger sisters.
“I sent my sisters pictures and I’m sure that made them want to go. Haylie was a little unsure, but Allison said ‘I’m going.’ She likes to explore and travel,” says Madeleine.
The sisters still compare notes and shares memories about their time at Wroxton. “We’re always talking about what we did and trying to top each other,” says Madeleine. “I never really expected them to be like me, but it’s kind of cool that in this way they are. I finally did something they both liked!”
Allison, 23, the middle child who’s in the midst of completing her B.A. in psychology and M.A. in industrial organizational psychology at FDU, jumped at the chance to spend the semester abroad and threw herself into the experience.
“I want to move out of the country, maybe go back to England, or move to another state to pursue my career. I’m really trying to get out and see. Wroxton sparked that, I think,” says Allison.
Getting ready to travel abroad, Allison figured that she would enjoy herself and expand her horizons, but she didn’t realize just how transformative her Wroxton semester would be.
“Madeleine would talk about Wroxton, but I didn’t realize until I got there just how fun and special it would be,” says Allison. “A semester abroad should be required. Going abroad helps people just have an all-around better mindset.”
Upon her return, Allison knew she and Madeleine needed to encourage Haylie, 21, to take advantage of the same opportunity.
Right: A grand send off for Haylie (center right) last semester at Newark Liberty International Airport, includes a group photo with her sisters (Madeleine, left, and Allison, right) and Brian Swanzey, director of study abroad. (Photo courtesy of Haylie)
“I knew the workload would be tough, but if my sisters could do it, so could I,” says Haylie, a junior studying marketing. “My sisters were right about me maturing while I was there. I wasn’t with my family or friends and felt out of my element and had to adjust to that.”
She rose to the occasion and lived up to her sisters’ legacy, ultimately embracing the British tutorial system of learning, which emphasizes student contributions to class discussions.
“I have classes with some of the Wroxton students and they’re always raising their hands. (The experience) just opened our minds and exercised our brains,” says Haylie.
“Just getting outside of your comfort zone and being able to explore another part of the world definitely can make you a better person,” adds Madeleine. “You use that experience when you come back.”
All three women stay in touch with various members of their Wroxton class, professors and Dean Nicholas Baldwin. “The professors don’t give you their emails because they want you to write them letters. I’m starting to now,” says Haylie. There’s talk of return trips to Wroxton, to visit the people and the sights, but for now exams, weddings and other commitments keep the Morales sisters stateside.
These days in the study abroad office, Haylie chats with students about going abroad. Part of her job is to market the Wroxton experience, so she’s also in touch with professors, sororities, fraternities and resident assistants (RAs) to get the word out. “They relay the information to their classes, chapters, floor, etc. I’m also thinking of new ways to get people more interested in using the program,” she says.
Through word of mouth, “we’re all always advertising Wroxton,” says Allison. “It’s cool that people know us that way.”