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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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The Pitfalls and Opportunities of Technology in Global Education

Posted By Administration, Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Pitfalls and Opportunities of Technology in Global Education



By: Christopher LeGrant - Diversity Abroad

According to most experts, the millennial generation is comprised of those born in 1982 and the approximately 20 years thereafter.  This would make me among the first of that generation and consequently it often feels as though I grew up in a time that bridges the world before and after the birth of the Internet.  This applies to my study abroad experience in the United Kingdom during the 2004/5 academic year as well.  For example, most people at that time had mobile phones but they were archaic by today’s standards with functionality limited to actual phone calls and new the rage, texting.  Social media was in its infancy and to call the U.S. I needed to buy an international calling card and use a landline.  Because laptop computers were still too expensive for most students and Wi-Fi was nonexistent, using the campus computer lab to email home was common practice.  

It’s true that 2004 offered a lot of conveniences over previous generations that needed to rely on things like travelers checks, payphones, and the physical mail but there was still a level of separation between myself and my community back in the United States.  Through the advancement of technology, most of these remaining barriers have since been erased.  In many places of the world students have instant access to their friends and family through social media and video/voice calls on their handheld devices, which can also be used to watch their favorite shows and listen to their own music. Because of this, many contemporary students studying abroad contend with a dependence on their support and social networks back home that can lead to very real challenges with language and cultural immersion as well as a possible sense of isolation while in-country.

However, this perspective is only one side of the double edged technology sword as there are many positive applications.  Students can use the Internet to learn an incredible amount about the host country and culture before they depart. Travel blogs and social media groups comprised of peers currently living in their destination of interest are now common and can provide great first hand information.  Websites like DiversityAbroad.com now exist to connect underrepresented students with opportunities and resources such as study abroad programs and scholarships that may have bypassed them completely in an earlier time.  While in-country, services such as translation apps, online payment terminals, and Google maps function to make everyday life easier.  

After returning home from an experience abroad, students can use technology to easily stay in contact with their host community, lessening the effects of language attrition and creating more opportunities to form lasting connections and friendships.  For example, I conducted my master's research in rural Nicaragua and the continued accessibility of mobile technology allows me to keep in contact with my old host community there with a level of closeness not possible even a decade ago.  Relatedly, students can continue to engage with media and news from the host country/culture, allowing for a degree of cultural and language immersion far after the program has ended.  They can also reflect on their experiences and then contribute to the same online spaces that originally helped inspire their journey.

Advising, Support and Professional Development

Technology also affects how we as professionals interact and support students.  The multiple and longstanding effects on recruitment are beyond the scope of this article but in terms of engagement, many providers and institutions can utilize both existing and custom apps to check in with their students while overseas.  Social media groups, forums and other online spaces dedicated to certain study abroad programs or cohorts can also facilitate connections between the students and their home institution.  Once these established connections are in place, professors and advisors can engage with students on reflection or career development exercises, allowing them to more fully process and leverage an abroad experience when they return.

Of course, this proliferation and ease of access to information is not just applicable to students.  Technology continues to be a powerful tool available to those seeking professional development for themselves.  For example, resources like Diversity Abroad’s Climate Diversity Notes and Diversity and Inclusion Advising Manuals can equip advisors and study abroad professionals with the knowledge to better support and advise underrepresented and diverse students without having to leave their office.  E-learning systems like our On-Demand Short Courses are also a cost effective way to provide organizations, institutions and individuals with the skills, thought leadership and best practices to become better at what they do.

In conclusion, it’s vital to understand that many of the same technological tools that may hamper a student's experience can be used to enhance it.  We as professionals can also embrace many of these same trends to become better at our jobs and to keep location-based global programing accessible, relevant and inclusive for all.  Only through this knowledge can we ensure that technology represents more opportunities than pitfalls for both the students we serve and the field of Global Education as a whole.

Tags:  advising  technology 

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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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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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