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Meet Devin Walker: Diversity Abroad Community Highlight

Posted By Administration, Thursday, February 8, 2018

Devin Walker PhotoDevin Walker
Ph.D. Candidate, College of Education
University of Texas at Austin

Level of Experience: 4-10 years

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

Diversity and inclusive excellence means that we are centering the needs of historically and continuously marginalized groups within our educational efforts. It is not enough to simply diversify the pool of study abroad participants, instead we must design study abroad programs that speak to these groups needs and desires. 

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

I studied abroad 3 times as an undergraduate and had life changing experiences. However, I realized that I was often one of few Black students on the trip. Not only did I see this as an issue of inequity for the students who weren't on the trip, but it also negatively impacted my experience. After working abroad for a few years, I made it a personal goal to develop programs that could help engage students of color in international education. I have had the unique opportunity to work with cutting edge programming with the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at UT-Austin over the last 5 years. Here, instead of trying to get students of color to join traditional trips, we develop trips based of off their desires and feedback.

What aspects of your work are you most excited about?

I am most excited about trying to extend the notion of inclusivity within international education to groups that are often over-looked, like Black student-athletes. Dominant narratives around this group suggests that they are living the dream as famous collegiate athletes, however, they are often denied some of the institutions most transformative learning opportunities like study abroad.

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

There are always many challenges to the work to be done. If there are no challenges, then the work is probably feeding oppression rather than disrupting it. Student-athletes live a very controlled life due to the revenue they bring the institution, so attempting to navigate athletic department politics is always a struggle. However, I have realized that relationships go a long way. Once people trust you, they are more willing to hear you out because they understand you want to do whats best for the students. It is also important to help institutions recognize how they might also benefit from the work that is trying to be accomplished.

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

I recently started a non-profit called the WorldWalker foundation that is focused on providing educational, programmatic and financial resources to help Black adolescents travel within the African diaspora. 

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

My parents- when I think about the things that both of them went through, I am amazed that they were able to raise three successful men, who are genuinely good people. The sacrifices my parents made for my brothers and I fuel me to be selfless and work on behalf of others.

What do you work toward in your free time?

My non-profit, my health and becoming a better partner, family member and community member.

You're a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?

Sunset- it would be great if as they crayon became more and more used, the colors would fade into each other like a sunset, showing that everything is in the process of becoming.

Do you have a mentor? If so, please describe this mentorship relationship and how it has benefitted your work. 

Dr. Moore is one of my most influential mentors. He has not only provided me with a platform to do what I love, he demands that I be myself and do things the way I see fit. It's great to have a mentor who not only let's you be you, they encourage it.

Recent Engagement with Diversity Abroad

Member: Task Force on Male Students (2016 - 2017) 
Presenter: 4th Annual Diversity Abroad Conference
Award Recipient: Global Student Leadership Award - Graduate Student 

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Student Perspectives on the Global Student Leadership Summit (GSLS)

Posted By Trixie Cordova, Thursday, February 8, 2018

The 4th Annual Global Student Leadership Summit (GSLS) is being held on from April 7-10 in Miami, FL concurrently during the 6th Annual Diversity Abroad Conference. GSLS is an innovative and unique opportunity for students returning from global opportunities to gain leadership and professional development skills among a cohort of diverse young leaders from around the country.

We’ve written at length about the benefits of GSLS as a unique re-entry opportunity for diverse students who have recently been abroad. GSLS students have shared incredible insights with us following their experience at the conference; and you can read more about their experiences through their firsthand accounts here:

By sharing their feedback with us about GSLS, students have confirmed that GSLS is a much-needed space for first abroad students and global leaders. We’re excited to feature two student alumni who have shared with us exactly how GSLS has impacted them personally and professionally.

Amira Beasley, Miami University Graduate, GSLS 2016 Alumna

In May of 2015, I boarded a flight flying from Madrid, Spain to Cincinnati, Ohio. Although I had spent five months studying in Madrid, my semester abroad felt surreal. I was grateful that my family, friends, and study abroad advisor had helped me knock down the obstacles that came with being a first generation student of color studying abroad. While on the plane home, I promised myself that I would find a way to help other students like me study abroad.



As the questions from friends and family died down, I decided to get to work in fulfilling this mission, but I had no idea where to start. Outside of my pictures and passion for international education, I felt like I didn’t have the right tools or platform to work on my mission. That’s where GSLS came in.

GSLS built the foundation of my international education activism. It surrounded me with exceptionally bright students and educators from all around the country who were equally as passionate about international education as I was. The two things about the conference that created lasting memories for me were the amazing sessions and the amount of support I received while there.

The hardest part about attending GSLS was picking which sessions I wanted to attend. Each session was an opportunity to learn an essential skill to help me make sense of my time of abroad and learn how to share that experience with others.

In addition to getting the opportunity to attend some incredible sessions, my experience at GSLS was also characterized by the amount of support I received while there. I not only felt immensely supported by my peers, I also felt supported by the educators. During the student presentations, they picked our brains to see how they could better support diverse students like us in the future. This made me feel like I had a stake in future efforts of diversifying international education. This was key in making me 100% invested in the mission ahead.

After the conference, I couldn’t wait to put everything I had learned from my peers into action. The first thing I was able to accomplish using my experience from GSLS 2016 was assisting in the creation of my university’s first Multicultural Student Symposium. It was a one day conference where students, particularly underrepresented students, were invited to a series of sessions about finding resources to study abroad, unpacking your study abroad experience, and more. One of the highlights of the conference was speaking with famed travel blogger and #travelgoals, Oneika the Traveler.


A few months later in the summer of 2016, I began an amazing year as a Diversity Abroad intern. During that year, I was able to work to fill the gaps that I found when searching for information being a person of color abroad. Before studying abroad, I had no idea what it was like being black in Spain, how to take care of my natural hair abroad, and how to unpack uncomfortable experiences triggered by differences in culture. Today, Diversity Abroad has articles about all of those topics... and MORE.

As a GSLS 2016 alum, I would encourage students to run, not WALK, to sign up for the next GSLS. Don’t let your experiences abroad die out once you return home. Let them live on by helping others experience the same. Unsure of where to start? Let GSLS be your guide.

Kiara Brown, The Ohio State University Graduate, GSLS 2016 Alum

My name is Kiara Brown and I was a student at the 2016 Global Student Leadership Summit (GSLS), and later attended the Diversity Abroad Conference in 2017 as a young professional. I would certainly say that GSLS made an impact on me in relation to my academics, career aspects, and personal growth.

Before going to GSLS, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Uganda for a month with my peers at The Ohio State University (OSU). As the first person in my family to go abroad, my experience in Uganda opened my eyes to how few people of color go abroad, (for various reasons) and I wanted to help change that. My experience abroad was so fulfilling, and it is because of this that I want to become a study abroad coordinator and do what I can to change the narrative that few people of color go abroad (and even less go to Africa). I believe that more underrepresented people should be able to go abroad; not just to have a good time in a new environment, but to grow and learn something new that can positively impact their communities. Many people I have spoken to want to go abroad but are scared to do it. But when I tell them about my own experience, I encourage them that they could do it, too; and many have!


GSLS encouraged me to continue these conversations with people of color and to change the narrative of who can go abroad. I learned how to become an international educator through networking opportunities with professionals, future mentors, and fellow GSLS students with similar interests. After GSLS, I started working with my study abroad office as a student outreach assistant and gave advice on how I studied abroad in Africa as a first-generation student of color, while also explaining how my experience gave me professional skills that employers truly desire from their employees. I also had the opportunity to return to the Diversity Abroad conference as a young professional and was inspired to study abroad in Senegal before graduating in August of 2017.

I plan to continue encouraging people of color to go abroad through mentorship opportunities domestically. I am also considering becoming a high school teacher (focused on world history, visual art, and/or French), do mission trips abroad, and eventually go to graduate school in order to advise college students. I would love to create opportunities for people of color to go abroad where they can use the things they’ve learned abroad to develop their communities at home.

In conclusion, if you were to ask me “Why should students go to the Global Student Leadership Summit”, I would say that this opportunity will provide students with a space to adequately reflect and understand their experience abroad, network, develop leadership skills, develop their resume, and become inspired to start something new on campus or in their community.

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Meet Eduardo Contreras: Diversity Abroad Community Highlight

Posted By Administration, Friday, January 19, 2018

Eduardo Contreras, Ed.D.
Director Studies Abroad, Office of Studies Abroad
University of Portland

Level of Experience: 10+ years

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

From a personal perspective, my parents valued education, but they did not have the background, financial resources, or frame of references to conceptualize what study abroad meant. Between my mother and father, only my mother had a college degree from our hometown, El Paso Community College. In our family, the way relatives had seen the world was through military service. We often spoke Spanish because of our familial ties to Mexico, and we connected with our heritage in many ways through daily life on the US/Mexico border; however, we also identified as Americans.

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

Today, as a professional, I’m both grateful and frustrated about my path to study abroad. I’m deeply grateful to the professor who took an interest in me and opened my eyes to the opportunity. I’m also grateful that my family supported me even if they were not sure what I was doing. To be fair to them, I wasn’t entirely sure what I was doing. I’m also frustrated that so many students like me may slip through the cracks and never have their eyes opened to the opportunities of international education while they are undergraduates. For these reasons, I think constantly about ways to increase access for students of all backgrounds to study abroad. Access though, is just the first step because inclusion is also essential for the educational benefits of study abroad to impact all students.   

What aspects of your work are you most excited about?

Supporting students to find new opportunities (both in the world) but also in their own personal development. In relation to this work, collaborating with colleagues across disciplines and institutional silos is the most challenging yet rewarding work I am fortunate to do on a regular basis. 

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

Sustaining support in terms of time, effort, and money for diversity, inclusion and internationalization. Our institution has prioritized the work D&I and internationalization in our president’s strategic plan called “Vision 2020.” Supporting and encouraging the long-term financial and human resources to support these important mandates will be a tough challenge. It will also be tough to request time and effort from busy colleagues who are doing good work in other areas to support these vital efforts collectively as a university. To overcome this challenge, I’m lucky to work with a “coalition of the willing” within the faculty, staff, and administration to build greater collective support for this work.

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

I'm proud to have cultivated long-lasting relationships with colleagues in the field--many of whom are doing exciting work in D&I and International Education. I am also proud to see the fruits of my labors in the students who go on to do wonderful things. The truth is though, I am far more critical of my regular output than anyone and I rarely take the time to answer this good question.

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

As cliched as it is, my mother was our family anchor. She was the primary bread winner for much of our lives and her work ethic and humane treatment of others are a model that I aspire to on a daily basis. The Urdu Progressive writer Ismat Chugtai is another hero. She wrote intrepidly (and beautifully) in India on topics such as women's sexuality, social class status, working class dignity, religious pluralism, etc. at a time when no men, let alone women, did such things.

Which two organizations outside your own do you know the most people at and why?

Probably, my previous institutions of employment because I have kept in touch with many former colleagues around the country.

What do you work toward in your free time?

I work toward maintaining my sanity and benefiting from my family support. I'm lucky to have a partner who is thoughtful, supportive, loving and funny. Spending as much time with her, and friends and family is what I do in my precious free time.

You're a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?

Brown. I think brown compliments most other colors and can blend in to create a cohesive scene. It's not a bold color that stands out like highlighter pink, but it's not totally innocuous. It's good to have brown in landscapes, portraits, still life's, and most compositions...I hope I'm useful too. 

Recent Engagement with Diversity Abroad

Chair: Annual Diversity Abroad Planning Committee (2016, 2017, 2018) 
Presenter: 6th Annual Diversity Abroad Conference

Tags:  community  Diversity Abroad Conference 

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Diversity Abroad Conference Attendees Share Their Insights

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Updated: Thursday, January 18, 2018

Carol Reyes | Director of Global Student Programs | Miami Dade College

1. Which Diversity Abroad conferences have you attended? Tell us about your experience(s).

I was lucky enough to attend the 2016 and 2017 Diversity Abroad conferences in a number of capacities: In addition to being part of the 2016 DA Conference Planning Committee and a previous DACA Task Force Member, I am a two-time presenter and I was last year’s emcee! During my first Diversity Abroad Conference, I also represented Miami Dade College as the winner of the Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion in International Education Award (EDIIE), and during my second conference, I received the Diversity Abroad Innovation Award for a study abroad program created specifically for homeless and foster students on our campuses.

2. What are the most valuable aspects of the conference, in your view?

In my experience, the most valuable aspects of the conference are its size and its focus. Even though the Diversity Abroad conferences continue to grow each year, it is still manageable enough that participants are able to create meaningful bonds, have in-depth conversations, and can engage with colleagues from around the world in a more intimate setting. The conference seems to be designed very intentionally and, although the conference offers a plethora of presentations and speakers, it is not an overwhelming affair. In terms of its focus, I appreciate that Diversity Abroad focuses on diversity, inclusion and access, and does it well – it also touches on those three points in a number of ways and is one of the few conferences that invites student panelists to share their experiences with colleagues in the field.

3. How have you applied learning/networking from the conference in your current work?

My participation in Diversity Abroad’s first conference lead to me taking a significant role in the second conference both as the conference’s main emcee, presenter, DACA Task Force Member and Innovation Award Competitor. The access to colleagues in the higher education, non-profit and government fields, has helped me create a much larger network that I can call upon during the year when I am thinking of building new partnerships or launching new programs. My participation in the conferences has also given me national exposure and has helped me become a thought leader in many topics, including DACA and undocumented students in study abroad.

4. What suggestions do you have for how someone can make the most of attending a Diversity Abroad Conference?

I would suggest that attendees review the list of colleagues coming to the conference from around the world, research them and reach out to different people to set up coffee chats or short meetings. I would also suggest that people attend a presentation or a panel that is unrelated to their current work but that seems interesting for some reason – this is a great opportunity to learn something new and to hear from some of the top leaders in our field. Finally, Diversity Abroad gives members and non-members many ways to get involved throughout the year: If you want to become a leader in a specific topic, join a Task Force. If you are interested in publishing an article or a more academic research piece, reach out and ask about the ability to submit it for publishing. If you want a challenge and want to get involved in planning one of the top conferences in the country, join a conference planning committee. Diversity Abroad truly gives us the opportunity to immerse ourselves in familiar or unfamiliar topics and grow as international educators – why only attend the conference, when you could be learning all year long? 

5. Who do you believe can benefit the most from attending the Diversity Abroad Conference?

The beauty of the Diversity Abroad Conference is that it has something for everyone – whether you work at a community college, a minority serving institution, a private university, a public research institution, a liberal arts college… if you are committed to increasing access and reducing barriers for underrepresented students, then this is the conference for you.

7. What excites you about the 2018 conference (if anything)?

I am most excited about the Women of Color Empowerment and Leadership Lunch & Learn (Sunday, April 9th 12:30-1:30pm). As a Hispanic woman in the international education field, I sometimes feel underrepresented myself, and I look forward to hearing from other women of color about their challenges and struggles, as well as their success stories and hopes for the future of the field. As international educators, we are the driving force behind the international education industry, so empowering and educating ourselves is just as important as attending sessions to learn about the newest trends and hot topics.


Mark Lenhart | Executive Director | CET Academic Programs

1. Which Diversity Abroad conferences have you attended? Tell us about your experience(s).
I’ve attended every one! It’s been exciting to watch the conference grow and set new standards every year. I also enjoy returning and reconnecting with colleagues I have met over the years.
2. What are the most valuable aspects of the conference, in your view?
I love the fact that this is a small conference focused on one topic—diversifying global education. The people who attend are all committed to sharing best practices as we pursue this goal, and I always leave the conference with new ideas and solutions. I think the Global Student Leadership Summit (GSLS) is a critical conference element, and it’s something that sets Diversity Abroad apart. No other study abroad conference gives such a platform to students. Of course conference attendees like me learn so much from our interactions with GSLS students. But the program is also transformational for the students themselves. We’ve seen that to be true for CET alumni who have participated.
3. How have you applied learning/networking from the conference in your current work?
I think I have a much clearer understanding of the issues, and that knowledge helps in my day-to-day decisions about student or staff policies. We made Diversity & Inclusion training the focus of an annual meeting, and we’ve used new knowledge from hiring and marketing workshops in our Diversity & Inclusion efforts.
4. Who do you believe can benefit the most from attending the Diversity Abroad Conference?
I can’t think of anyone working in higher education or global education who WOULDN’T benefit!
5. What suggestions do you have for how someone can make the most of attending a Diversity Abroad Conference?
Don’t skip the sessions! They’re really a great source of information and inspiration. Also, this is one of the friendliest conferences I’ve attended—a great place to walk up to strangers and introduce yourself.
6. If relevant, how have your students benefited from attending the Global Student Leadership Summit (GSLS)?
In many ways the GSLS experience is an extension of students’ study abroad experiences—it helps students step outside their comfort zone and think about things from a different angle. CET alumni have gained confidence, new contacts, and a sense of purpose.





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Diversity Network Member Highlight: DIS - Study Abroad in Scandinavia

Posted By Administration, Thursday, December 21, 2017

Institution name

DIS - Study Abroad in Scandinavia



Copenhagen, DK and Stockholm, SE


Institutional Profile

Small (under 5,000 students)


Why did your institution join the Diversity Abroad Network?

DIS was established in Denmark and roots its academic identity in the progressive values of its two host cities: Copenhagen and Stockholm. Our curriculum is designed to bring a Scandinavian perspective to the burning issues of our time - examining preconceived notions and diving into topics like gender equity, sexual identity, and human rights. We strive to construct high-quality living and learning environments and believe a diversity of perspectives and backgrounds - in our students, in our faculty, in our staff - must be central to that endeavour. The Diversity Abroad Network is an important partner in both connecting with a diverse student body, and most important, interacting with a community of practice that helps us ensure students with a wide variety of lived experiences feel comfortable and supported while studying at DIS. A diverse student composition benefits all by enhancing the experience in the classroom and the overall environment for our students, faculty, and staff.


How long has your organization/institution been a member? 

DIS is a founding member of the Diversity Abroad Network.


What Diversity Network resource has been most useful for you and your colleagues in advancing diversity & inclusive excellence in global education? 

Over the past five years, DA’s annual conference has been has been an important tool for our professional development and knowledge sharing strategy. It is an excellent forum for us to dialog and explore best practices, connect with campus stakeholders both within study abroad and beyond, and deepen partnerships.


How has membership with the Diversity Network helped your institution make global education more accessible to students from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds?  

The Diversity Network is an essential source of information and community in our ever-evolving work to build accessible and inclusive learning environments. Knowledge we garner from conferences, newsletters, and webinars feeds back into our processes and policy discussions, providing ongoing opportunities for us to reflect and improve.


Please describe any innovative initiatives related to diversity and inclusion in global education that your institution is currently undertaking.  

Initiative 1:
DIS believes individual student identity development is a key component of the study abroad experience, and awareness of that process that should begin before students arrive on-site. Each semester, we conduct ~60 in-person pre-departure orientations with incoming students,  during which we are currently piloting exercises designed to spark student reflection on their unique identity, explore how that identity may be challenged while abroad both in Scandinavia in general and at DIS in particular, and cultivate compassion for their fellow students as they move through their own development. 

Initiative 2:
The majority of our faculty are active professionals local to Scandinavia and often don’t come to us with a nuanced understanding of the current identity landscape in the US, and US institutions of higher education in particular. We have expanded our faculty training to include more context designed to broaden the cultural foundation of our faculty members and help them better recognize and address identity tension in the classroom and ensure they don’t inadvertently add to it themselves.

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