New horizons

From a small town to a big world

Jeff Gibson has seen the world—or at least a good chunk of it.

Gibson doesn’t seem to be the world traveling type. Walking into the coffee shop, he is hard to notice because he doesn’t stand out in his jeans and Ferris hoodie. At first glance, one might pass him off for any other unassuming Ferris student mulling about campus. He blends in with the 30 other students in Biggby bent over computers and books.

But he is kind and approachable, typical of the small town of Decatur he was raised in.

Gibson started traveling abroad after he decided he didn’t want to study music anymore and changed his major from music education to sociology. He is a senior in the program now, walking in May at the age of 22.

“I want to go into higher education and develop access to higher education for minority students,” Gibson said.

Back in Decatur, Latino immigrants work the industrial farms that surround the little town. Gibson went to school with their children who lived a life adrift. Whole families would move across the country from Texas to work in the fields for the summer.

“From May to October you have a lot of migrant students,” Gibson said. “A lot of them I knew went back to Texas. They have a really hard time with education because you’re transferring schools, and some of the school systems don’t match up. So they don’t think that going to college is even possible because they can’t afford it. They’re so used to that migrant lifestyle.”

His goal is to help these people break this cycle so they can achieve higher education.

Studying abroad in Costa Rica with Ferris afforded Gibson the opportunity to submerse himself into Latino culture.

“It helps you understand. You have to study who they are in order to understand where they’re coming from,” Gibson said.

Costa Rica was his second experience abroad. He spent his first trip on a ship sailing to the Caribbean, Europe and then back to America. He wholeheartedly recommends that students of any discipline take the opportunity to travel.

“Just go for it,” Gibson encouraged. “You are your richest and your poorest when you’re in college, so do it now. It gives you a unique perspective of the world, because there’s a lot of things going on that we may or may not see. It looks good on your resume, too.”

This summer, Gibson will travel to El Salvador, a nation still recovering from civil war. The Ferris-led program will work with local social workers to tackle social justice issues facing the nation today.

“You may think it’s really expensive, but you won’t regret it,” Gibson said.

Students who wish to inquire about studying abroad with Ferris in the coming year can access information about upcoming programs at