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Meet Irene Scott: Diversity Abroad Community Highlight

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Updated: Friday, December 8, 2017

Irene Scott Photo Irene Scott
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) 

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Global Student Leadership Summit: A Practice in Innovative Reentry Programming

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Global Student Leadership Summit: A Practice in Innovative Reentry Programming



By: Trixie Cordova - Diversity Abroad


When international educators explore ways to improve programming for students going abroad, we often focus our energy by examining four core stages of the student experience: outreach and recruitment, pre-departure, in-country, and reentry. Institutions and providers have developed many creative solutions to address each of these phases in depth, often creating new and innovative ways to address the questions:

What can we do to reach a broader, more diverse student population?

How can we improve pre-departure orientation to accommodate different student identities?

What type of resources exist in-country for students to feel safe while they’re abroad?

What has not gained as much focus is a more in-depth and supportive reentry model to encourage students to think critically and process their experience abroad. Often, discussions on the topic of reentry programming focus on gathering student feedback. Through surveys, focus groups, and evaluations, there is much to understand about the ways we can improve our processes and offerings by asking students how supported they felt by program staff, the academic fit and affordability of their program, as well as their growth on metrics such as intercultural learning, global awareness, adaptability, and independence. Data collection is a critical component to improving how inclusive our practices are, and creates an opportunity for institutions and providers to make data-driven decisions in program design.

But evaluation and assessment aside, where and how are we creating intentional spaces for students to reflect on the ways in which their global experience impacted how they view themselves as global leaders? Specifically, what opportunities exist for diverse and underrepresented students to unpack social and cultural attitudes that informed the way they were treated by their peers, host families, program staff, and random encounters, and how might this inform how they view themselves, as well as their future career aspirations?

Ethnically diverse college students make up more than 40% of the student population enrolled in secondary education in the U.S. Their struggles of belonging and feeling othered have often been researched across campus types for many years (see examples of studies here, and here). The latest Open Doors report found that students of color still make up less than 30% of the overall U.S. student population studying abroad, so It is inevitable that this lack of belonging extends to their overseas experiences. This, coupled with global perceptions and attitudes as to what it means to look/sound/be “American”, can leave a lasting impression on students. Creating an evaluation form or hosting a 1-hour focus group can help in uncovering the root of this issue, but is it enough?

In an article, titled “Study Abroad Could Be So Much Better”, author Stacie Berdan examines this more closely, stating:

“Most students reported even greater difficulties and lack of support upon returning home. They felt less comfortable with their new selves on their old campuses and had trouble reintegrating. They didn’t understand how to leverage their experiences abroad to help them in their remaining studies and in their lives after graduation, whether academically or professionally.

Many students reported feeling frustrated in their relationships with friends and family, often feeling isolated and alone. Although most students seemed to muddle through, chalking up the strenuous readjustment to part of the learning curve, it doesn’t — and, in fact, shouldn’t — have to be that way.” (Berdan, 2015)

For many “first abroad” students, and particularly students of color, there is so much to process throughout all four study abroad phases. From making the decision to go abroad and getting parental support, to meeting with program and academic advisors and submitting the appropriate forms; it’s a lot to take in. Program staff, advisors, and faculty spend hours aiding students through the process of applying for programs and funding, all with the hopes that students will commit and go abroad. And the work doesn’t stop there, as we continue to find ways to ensure they feel healthy and safe while they’re overseas. The questions that remain, however, are: “Are we spending as much time allowing students to unpack their global experiences upon reentry as we do preparing them to go abroad? If not, what prevents us from providing this space?”

The reality is that we know study abroad advisors or program providers have limited time and resources to facilitate the level of dialogue necessary to help students process their experience abroad. In his study on “holistic assessment and the study abroad experience”, Doyle of Central College found:

“The campus community rarely gets a good sense about how students grow and change during their semester(s) studying abroad. By the time students reenter the flow of campus life their distinct memories have faded or they have processed the experience to the point where it is not in the foreground of their life any more. When asked to put their experiences studying abroad into words, students usually can only respond with such unsatisfying phrases as ‘it was great, life-changing,’ or the truly vacuous ‘it was awesome.’ King and Baxter Magolda argue for a more holistic approach to assessing the study abroad experience that can move beyond the vague, attitudinal responses and delve more deeply into student progress toward intercultural maturity.” (Doyle 2009).   

Developing effective re-entry programming for diverse and underrepresented students going abroad can positively impact the ways in which students process their experience and how they view themselves and their place in the world. Diversity Abroad’s Global Student Leadership Summit is an intensive three-day re-entry program designed specifically for this purpose. We bring together diverse and underserved students who have previously studied abroad, and invite them to reflect on the ways in which their global experiences impacted their personal identities and professional aspirations. Spending three days with likeminded peers, many of whom identify as ethnically diverse, first-generation, high financial need, and first abroad, allows students to be fully honest and transparent about the impact of these experiences on their evolving identities. Being around non-institutional program staff and advisors also lends itself to creating an environment that allows students to be completely honest and feel safe when processing their experiences.


group picture

The GSLS -- held parallel to the annual Diversity Abroad Conference -- provides students with the opportunity to engage in challenging conversations among peers, and to hone their skills to effectively articulate how their global experiences have prepared them for what's next academically and professionally. The ability to make connections with students with whom they can relate helps to alleviate a persistent sense of otherness, and finding community alongside other diverse study abroad alumni can be just as transformational as going abroad, particularly for those attending a predominantly white institution (PWI). Below are just a few thoughtful student reflections on how and why GSLS was such a necessary experience for many:

“I am glad that we were given this opportunity to connect with students who had similar experiences, studied abroad, and have a community to support one another. I learn so much from my peers and also from professionals who have the same values as me. I also love having deep conversations with others and this conference provided that space. Overall, I came back with a broader perspective and so much knowledge about leadership, how to bring it back to campus, and how to help others succeed.”

“A major take-away for me is now being able to properly speak about some of the issues I've encountered abroad, while also using these experiences to develop myself professionally and personally. I also have useful tools that will allow me to encourage other students to take the leap to study abroad as well.”

“Speaking about my identity and hearing others speak about theirs helped me to conceptualize how I view myself as a multi-ethnic young woman in America.”

"I left the Summit with a level of confidence, self-awareness and professional proficiency that I did not have before attending."

"It was powerful! Felt like therapy with people who understood me. A much needed experience."

"Hearing everyone's perspectives during their time abroad and voicing my own helped me to thoroughly process everything that I experienced for the first time."

"I am so grateful for all of you at Diversity Abroad for committing yourselves to helping students like me become their best selves. Thank you for bringing us all together."

To read a full student reflection, please click here


GSLS is just one example of an innovative reentry program, and student feedback suggests that it is a crucial and necessary, yet rarely provided opportunity for reflection. As International Educators, we should push ourselves to facilitate similar levels of engaging dialogue to aid students who are otherwise unable to attend. Reentry programming, much like pre-departure and in-country support, is of equal importance for our study abroad alumni to get the type of holistic support necessary to readjust into life back on campus and in the U.S.  


We encourage you to consider nominating a diverse study abroad alum to participate in this one-of-kind reentry opportunity. Early bird registration for the 4th Annual Global Student Leadership Summit is currently open and accepting nominations. You can read more about nominating students here.

Tags:  Global Student Leadership Summit  leadership  re-entry  returnee 

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Meet Brandon Bell: Diversity Abroad Community Highlight

Posted By Erica Ledesma, Monday, November 27, 2017
Updated: Monday, December 4, 2017

Brandon Bell photoBrandon Bell
Assistant Director, The Center for Race, Ethnicity & Diversity Education
Elon University

Level of Experience: 4 - 10 years

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

Diversity & inclusive excellence is an ideology that guides my work as a student affairs practitioner. It requires a systems approach that negotiates and collaborates with policy to impact the day to day lived experiences of our non-hetero-normative and racially and ethically diverse students. It's a commitment, charge and campaign to continually interrogate the systems in place so that we can become a truly more inclusive body of people. 

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

My own experiences during my undergraduate career, paired with my passions for helping people tap and actualize their potential seemed to prime me for a career in higher education.  

With specific regard to my work in equity, diversity and inclusion my lived experience as a person of color inspire me to work to create more inclusive and conducive systems and support for racially and ethnically diverse students in higher education contexts.  

What aspects of your work are you most excited about?

I enjoy helping students plan for the future and navigate their current experiences to foster meaning making. Every time I witness a student realize their own potential I am both inspired and energize to engage the work that much more. 

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

When doing diversity and inclusion work, I have found that a team of friends, mentors and support systems are key in not only moving towards the goal of greater social justice in our communities but in enacting work life balance and ensuring that I create time to reflect and reconnect with things that energize me. 

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

The support and mentorship I am afforded to provide to students is an honor and privilege that I am most proud to engage daily. 

What do you work toward in your free time?

In my free time I work towards sharpening my singing abilities and reconnecting with friends and extended family.

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

Mahogany Alabaster - because my work is to help students shape and mold themselves into the person they envision themselves to be. Alabaster is the wood commonly used for carving and various wooden figurines. Mahogany is added because I am black and proud of it!

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

I actually have a team of mentors throughout various functional areas of higher education, corporate and non-profit settings. My relationships with them provide different perspectives to utilize in my work towards equity, diversity and inclusion, in addition to providing intellectual balance and nuanced professional development. My mentors have helped me developed the analytical, strategic and empathetic skills needed to be a effective practitioner in the realm of social justice and  advocate, coach and educator to the faculty, staff and students I encounter.  

Recent Engagement with Diversity Abroad

Co-Chair: 2017-2018 Racially & Ethnically Diverse Students Task Force
Member: 2016-2017 Racially & Ethnically Diverse Students Task Force 
Presenter: 2017 Annual Diversity Abroad Conference



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Meet Meggan Madden: Diversity Abroad Community Highlight

Posted By Administration, Monday, October 23, 2017

Photo of Meggan MaddenMeggan Madden, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of International Education and Higher Education Administration
The George Washington University

Level of Experience: 10+ years

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

Diversity and inclusive excellence informs my teaching and research. In teaching, I consider how I can practice inclusive excellence in the development of curricula, teaching plans, and assignments. In my research, I am interested in how diversity is supported in international higher education practice and policy and what ways are inclusive excellence practices informing good practice.  

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

My career track is as a professor who is strongly committed to conducting research that can support practitioners of international education. The factors that led me to pursue this career track are my own professional experiences serving students of color and international students as a student affairs professional; recognizing assumptions that staff and faculty make of underserved student populations and wanted to change these assumptions; and the values I hold toward equity, diversity and inclusive student learning.

What aspects of your work are you most excited about?

I love teaching and conducting research when I can talk to students about their international education experiences. 

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

I'm still new in my current role. Most challenges have been with being new and unintentionally bumping up against norms of the institution of which I was unaware. The strategies I use are to listen to those who hold certain aspects of the status quo dear, and to find allies who can help me break down some norms that do not serve all students. 

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

I'm proud of the students I have taught and how they have navigated their early careers.   

Recent Engagement with Diversity Abroad

Presenter: September 13, 2017 Community Discussion on The Future of DACA  
Co-Chair: 2017-2018 Faculty Development Task Force 

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Diversity Abroad Focuses on Supporting Incoming International Students

Posted By Administration, Friday, October 6, 2017

Diversity Abroad is excited to introduce members of our International Student & Scholar Services Working Group. This group -- comprised of eight global education professionals with experience supporting inbound international students -- has committed to working together this fall to guide Diversity Abroad in developing resources to assist International Student Services Professionals facilitate meaningful global exchanges across the full range of diverse perspectives represented on our campuses in the US and abroad.

Working Group Members

Jacquis Watters (Co-Chair) 
Diversity Educator - Stevens Institute of Technology

Jacquis Watters (she, her, hers) currently serves as the Diversity Educator in the Division of Student Affairs at Stevens Institute of Technology. As a Higher Education practitioner, she’s blended discussions on the intersectionality of social identities such as race, gender, and sexuality into international education through her involvement in Diversity Abroad Network and Somewhere Over the Rainbow: Conference on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in International Education; as well as, through national and international conference presentations.


Monica J. Bryant, Ph.D.
International Student Career Development Specialist - Rutgers University

As a career development specialist and liaison to international students at Rutgers University, I provide counseling services and programming to all students; however, my primary focus is to develop programs and services to address the needs of international students, particularly those with interests in the Arts & Communication; Business, Financial Services, and Logistics; and Education and Public & Human Services career clusters.

My work is informed by more than 25 years of experience in the field of career planning and development in higher education. Thus, my experiences have enabled me to understand the career needs and challenges of a diverse student body. I also have worked in government, human services, and business. I hold a doctorate in organizational systems (focusing on behavior, development, and learning), a master's degree in human development, and bachelor's in psychology. I have a strong interest in experiential education, particularly in the context for cultural understanding, leadership development for civic and community building, and program assessment and evaluation using ROI Methodology. When I am not working as a career counselor, I serve as an adjunct instructor and continue my study and practice in Reiki healing—Western Usui and Jikiden Reiki styles. 

Duwon Clark
Dean of Global Initiatives - Fisk University

Duwon Clark is the Dean of Global Initiatives at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, where he manages study abroad and international student services. Duwon previously served as the coordinator for international student services at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, MO. He earned a BS in political science with a concentration in international relations from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) in Tallahassee, FL. He is now pursuing a master’s in public administration at the University of Missouri. Clark has studied in Ghana and traveled as a research and immersion scholar to several other countries, including China and Brazil by way of FAMU’s Center for Global Security and International Affairs (CGSIA). Duwon is a former Charles B. Rangel scholar and advocate for comprehensive internationalization at historically black colleges and universities.


Elizabeth Coder
International Student Services Coordinator - Carnegie Mellon University, Qatar

Elizabeth Coder is originally from Omaha, Nebraska and graduated from Auburn University in the great state of Alabama with a Bachelor’s degree in psychology. (Go Tigers!) She went on to receive her Master’s degree in Higher and Postsecondary Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. After completing her Master's, she served three terms with AmeriCorps, where she developed a love of experiential learning, social justice, and service-learning. After AmeriCorps, Elizabeth began her international education career, working on Semester at Sea and in first-year study abroad programs at Northeastern University and Elon University, working with 300 first-year students in five different countries. She currently serves as the International Student Services Coordinator at Carnegie Mellon University's campus in Doha, Qatar where she oversees international student services, study abroad, and campus exchange. She is also currently a doctoral student in Comparative and International Development Education at the University of Minnesota where she is planning to research the intersection between the intercultural learning that happens internationally in study abroad programs and the intercultural learning that happens domestically in diversity education centers on college campuses.


Barbara Kappler, Ph.D
Assistant Dean and Director of International Student and Scholar Services - Univ of MN

Barbara Kappler, Ph.D., is Assistant Dean and Director of International Student and Scholar Services with Global Programs and Strategy Alliance and a member of the Graduate Faculty with the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota.  Barbara has 25 years of experience in facilitating and teaching  in intercultural communication, leading and managing programs, and conducting research. She enjoys writing and is co-editor of NAFSA’s 2017 3rd edition of Learning Across Cultures and co-author of three guides for students, staff, and language instructors on Maximizing Study Abroad, as well as a book on communication styles. Her career at the University has been an exciting blend of program and leadership experiences, curriculum development, intercultural communication research, teaching, and working with international students.


Lee Seedorff
Assistant Provost for International Programs - University of Iowa

Reporting to the Assistant Provost for International Programs, Lee has day-to-day administrative oversight of ISSS.  She sets advising policies and procedures, interprets and applies federal regulations and other immigration guidelines, oversees the ISSS budget, and works closely with University of Iowa administration and other programs regarding internationalization issues.  Lee has considerable experience providing intercultural training and programming for students, staff, and faculty including use of the Intercultural Development Inventory.  A member of ISSS since 1999, she served as Regulatory Ombudsperson for Region IV of NAFSA: Association of International Educators, liaising with schools in the region and the Department of Homeland Security/Department of State.  She was also involved with NAFSA for a number of years providing training for advisors new to the field, and currently serves as the Region IV International Education Leadership Rep.  As a result of her long-term expertise in F and J regulations, she has provided expert witness opinions in legal cases and published an article on international student employment co-authored with Amanda McFadden from the Pomerantz Career Center in New Directions for Student Services in 2017.  Lee has a B.A. with double majors in Anthropology and South Asian Religions, a minor in Sanskrit Language and Literature, and a Master of Social Work, all from the University of Iowa.  She has studied in India and St. Lucia, and spent time in Mexico, Canada, Thailand, and Singapore.  She has studied the Spanish, Hindi, Urdu, and Sanskrit languages, and made less successful attempts to learn Chinese (Mandarin) and German.


Carrie Trimble, Ph.D.
ssociate Professor of Marketing and the Director of the Center for International Education - Millikin University

Carrie Trimble is an Associate Professor of Marketing and the Director of the Center for International Education at Millikin University with graduate degrees in Communication (M.A. From University of Illinois Springfield) and Mass Media (Ph.D. from Michigan State University) and a graduate certificate in International Marketing (Boston University). She joined the Millikin University faculty in 2011. Her area of expertise is consumer response to marketing communications like cause-related marketing campaigns and branded social media efforts. She’s a grammando who keeps her class presentations full of contemporary examples and energy. She advises International students who study at Millikin and U.S. students preparing to study abroad as well as teaching Marketing and International Business courses. She’s taught travel courses in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Viet Nam, China, Italy, and Walt Disney World. Fascinated by digital media and media technologies, she can’t wait to see how the future of communication unfolds.


Claire Witko
Director of Programs - Association of Governing Boards of Colleges and Universities (AGB)

Claire Witko is the Director of Programs at AGB, where she is responsible for the association’s national programs, seminars, and other programmatic initiatives for governing boards and institutional leaders.  Most recently, she was the Director of Summer and Non-Degree Programs at The George Washington University, managing over 600 international and domestic high school, undergraduate and adult students each summer. Prior to her work at GW, Claire was the Executive Director of the South Africa-Washington International Program (SAWIP), a non-profit that brings together diverse university students from South Africa for leadership development and peace building. Originally a native of Chicago, Claire graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a BA in Cultural Studies, received an MA in International Education from American University and has also completed her MBA at Johns Hopkins Carey School of Business. Previously, Claire has run international student programs at the UNCF Special Programs Corporation and the American University, Washington College of Law, and was the Assistant Manager of Development for the National Symphony Orchestra. She and her husband love working on their house and cuddling with their adorable pup, Hubert. 


Tags:  International Exchange  International Students 

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