UA Faculty Led and Exchange Coordinator
Office of Study Abroad & International Exchange
University of Arkansas
Education and Qualifications:
M.A., German Literature University of Arkansas at Fayetteville
B.A., German/International Relations/European Studies, cum laude, University of Arkansas at Fayetteville
Study abroad experience with Univ. of Kansas summer institute in Holzkirchen, Germany
Fulbright Teaching Assistantship at Gymnasium am Kurfürstlichen Schloss, Mainz, Germany
Describe a typical day on your job.
I have the wonderful opportunity to have a position in the Office of Study Abroad at the UA, where everything is constantly changing from one day to the next, so you’re never bored. Getting to send UA students oversees and receive incoming international exchange students means I see the full circle of excitement, self-awareness, and knowledge that comes from studying abroad. I get to have a hand in a little of everything: from helping students join faculty overseas, to fixing up the website, to helping an international student figure out the ins-and-outs of Fayetteville and the UA. Through my own experiences abroad, I know how important this journey is and it gives me a constant source of enthusiasm and strength to conquer whatever comes up in a given day.
How do you use German?
I use both my German skills and my knowledge of study abroad to help me in my job. I love to speak German with my friends and have occasionally used it to help me assist exchange students from German-speaking countries who may have a little trouble articulating things from time to time. I have also translated documents for students whose schools haven’t been able to submit things in English.
As a result of being able to use a second language, I’ve learned how to accept non-native speakers’ English and have been more open to listening to what they mean rather than focusing on what words/pronunciations they are using. I consider this to be of immeasurable value in my current job.
Finally, and more broadly, I remember the highs and lows of culture shock, which I consider a universal language, and use those experiences to help support all the students I work with to the best of my ability.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of your job?
One advantage of my job is that I get to meet new people every day and help them achieve their own goals for studying abroad. This is especially rewarding for me, because I remember how life-changing my own experiences in Germany were and I get to advocate for studying languages…I try to be impartial with students, but German will always be my first choice!
A challenge I face while doing my job is that it is never finished. I am constantly trying to think of ways to improve our support resources, encourage students to learn abroad, and find funding for students. Our office is fairly small, and we are all extremely busy trying to make sure everyone who needs our help gets it. In order to do the best job I can, I’m often here late in the evenings and sometimes on weekends. And, sadly, I don’t get summer vacation, unlike the students.
Do you have any advice for someone who would like to enter your field?
I would say you have to value what it is you are actually doing in a job in order to make it worth the stress and hard work count for something. I could never be in this field if I didn’t fully believe that study abroad was a worthwhile and life-changing endeavor. And I would not be qualified for my job nor would I have solidified this belief without prior knowledge of study abroad, and the fact that I know a second language is a huge asset and often a requirement for most study abroad jobs these days.
I know it’s a little corny, but here’s a quote that I find to be great advice, from Vincent Van Gogh: “Your profession is not what brings home your paycheck. Your profession is what you were put on earth to do. With such passion and such intensity that it becomes spiritual in calling.”