Program Coordinator, Study Abroad Programs Office
Texas A&M University
Level of Experience: 10+ years
What does diversity & inclusive excellence mean to you in the context of your work?
Diversity and inclusion excellence in the context of study abroad calls international educators to refine processes, services, program designs, and policies. In the pursuit to make high-impact, transformational international experiences accessible to all students, it is not enough to obtain representation of diverse and underrepresented populations in study abroad. Program participants’ retention and the quality of their experiences are equally important. Furthermore, to achieve diversity and inclusion excellence, it is a shared responsibility of the study abroad office and campus constituents. It takes a collective effort of many to make a sustainable impact.
Please describe the factors that led you to pursue your current career track?
As the first female in my family to pursue a bachelor’s degree, and then later a master’s degree, I am grateful for a network of supportive individuals who contributed to my success and opportunities that pushed me out of my comfort zone (e.g., studying abroad). In working at an institution of higher education, I strive to be a resource and collaborate with various entities to remove barriers affecting others in their pursuit to achieve personal, academic and career goals.
What aspects of your work are you most excited about?
It is a blessing to be part of a team committed to selfless service, excellence, and inclusion. Aspects of my work that make me smile include the opportunity to serve students and assist them in successfully participating in their respective international experiences. Complex inquiries and new projects excite me, as they create an opportunity to navigate uncharted territories, collaborate, learn, gain insight to refine processes, and/or establish new partnerships.
Please describe any challenges you've encountered in relationship to your current role? What strategies have you employed to overcome them?
The Texas A&M Study Abroad Programs Office has made significant progress in its processes, services, program offerings, and diverse personnel; however, our work is never-ending. In adjusting to significant growth in students served and programs developed, it is a challenge to work efficient and strategic with available resources.
A few strategies employed in my current role include being flexible and adjusting project goals based on current realities and office priorities; participating in campus and national task forces to keep abreast of the latest; and benchmarking among peer institutions and professional organizations to make informed decisions and effectively advocate changes.
As you reflect on different aspects of your career, what are you most proud of?
I am most proud of our collaboration with the Texas A&M Department of Disability Services (DS). The inclusive practices of DS have afforded several students the opportunity to participate in rewarding international experiences.
DS does its best to arrange and fund whatever reasonable accommodation students with disabilities need abroad taking into consideration the program structure and available resources in the host country. Examples of ways DS has supported program participants with disabilities include providing course materials in alternative format, arranging a sign language interpreter to accompany Deaf students, facilitating a cost analysis and funding the increase in transportation expenses for a wheelchair user to participate in required program activities, and collaborating with on-site staff to identify available academic/medical resources. Our approach is: just because it has never been done, does not mean it cannot be done.
Recent Engagement with Diversity Abroad
Member: Diversity & Multicultural Professionals Task Force (2017 – 2018)
Member: Access for Disabilities Abroad Task Force (2016 – 2017)
Member: Students with Disabilities Task Force (2015 – 2016)