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Meet Darin Smith-Gaddis: Diversity Abroad Community Highlight

Posted By Administration, Friday, October 6, 2017

Darin Smith-Gaddis
Manager, Institutional Relations
CAPA The Global Education Network

Level of Experience: 4-10 years

What does diversity & inclusive excellence mean to you in the context of your work?

Creating diverse and inclusive excellence in my work is a charge to make sure that global opportunities are accessible to everyone. A diversity of thought, education, and background allows for a healthy and necessary debate of ideas. We must think critically about the barriers to global opportunities and purposely act to build more robust pipelines of diverse participants. Doing so means all students can strengthen their academic, personal, and professional skillsets, and that is my goal . I work with advisors, faculty, and administrators to deliver global academic programming that any student can believe is for them.    

Please describe the factors that led you to pursue your current career track?

I was lucky enough to have a mother with a strong belief in sharing diverse perspectives at a young age. I participated in my first study abroad program in high school, and continued with multiple international experiences in undergrad. Through my life I have always been fascinated by the idea of the “other” and learning about communities different from my own. I knew early on that my passion for travel would have to be incorporated into my profession. Being presented with opportunities to travel at a young age turned into a deep desire to make sure other people have the same opportunity.

What aspects of your work are you most excited about?

Any and every opportunity to rethink business as usual with the goal of increasing access to an international experience. Of course, I can’t do this alone. Creating communities of colleagues to help develop what could be, instead of our current system, gets me out of bed every day. Oh, and the travel!

Please describe any challenges you've encountered in relationship to your current role? What strategies have you employed to overcome them?

The current regulatory and financial environment makes it dangerous to dream. Changing the status quo, which can be on a shaky foundation as is, can be a hard argument to accept, even if it is the right argument. Building coalitions of the willing across the educational spectrum helps broaden the boundaries possibility. Additionally, we work in a research and data driven field. The use of analytics can help the decision makers feel comfortable making tough decisions about our finite resources. Finally, storytelling is a key component to building buy-in and increases the chances for success.   

As you reflect on different aspects of your career, what are you most proud of?

Building systems that level the playing field for historically underrepresented students in academic or experiential learning abroad. Designing programs and recruiting structures for diverse communities that will far outlast me.  

Do you have any heroes? Who are they and why?

Those that never lose hope, and fight for equity and accessibility for all. Especially for those that are the most vulnerable and can’t fight for themselves.

What do you work toward in your free time?

I am involved in issues of educational access and food security. It seems odd that as one of the richest nations in the world, many people in our own communities are unsure of where their next meal will come from. Additionally, there are purposely complex barriers to high quality education in this country. We know education is the silver bullet for so many other societal challenges and yet it has a complicated history in the American experience.

Recent Engagement with Diversity Abroad

Planning Committee Member: 2017 Global Student Leadership Summit 
Presenter: 2017 Global Student Leadership Summit 
Member: 2016-2017 & 2017-2018 High School Task Force 

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