When students have questions about studying abroad, Annie Nguyen, Ed.D., Coordinator of Study Abroad and Global Education at York College, has answers. She also has plans, which include expanding the overseas program so that it is more oriented toward students' career paths. "I want to make sure students focus on why they want to study abroad before applying and choosing a program," she said.
Since taking the position at YCP in 2015, Nguyen has started to introduce more structure to the program. She wants to make it easier for faculty to add programs, and plans to increase support for existing study abroad options. She would like to increase the number of short-term study abroad programs, which would include courses in the summer or during the school year where students study abroad during one of the school’s breaks. Nguyen understands the benefits of correlating short-term study abroad with the GenNext constellation courses so that students get more out of their experience. Part of aligning the short-term study abroad trips with GenNext involves the development of programs that will hit different aspects. This will allow students to have the kind of experience and access to study abroad programs that align with their goals and interests. She said, "Studying abroad is about creating a meaningful educational experience where students go abroad and engage in the culture and different aspects of global and international issues on a professional level."
Nguyen is able to promote study abroad and provide information sessions regarding options offered for overseas programs. She said that it is easy to find the study abroad webpage on the College website, and she has created a new Facebook page, where students will find information about events, options, and deadlines relating to the program. Additionally, she distributes a monthly newsletter that focuses on current programs and scholarship opportunities.
Nguyen recently coordinated an event called "Around the World in a Week" that featured a panel of students who participated in overseas programs, plus a presentation about volunteer work accomplished by students in India.
Studying abroad takes planning, and Nguyen would like students to start thinking about it earlier in their college career and plan when they would like to study abroad, rather than thinking about it at the last minute during their junior or senior year. "The earlier they have it in their mind, the easier it is to fit it in their program of study," she said. She has made improvements so that students better understand what options are available to them. They also have a better idea about what needs to be done when applying to study abroad.
YCP has some excellent study abroad programs. The College also affords students the opportunity to go through programs offered by other universities and providers. If a student finds a program that the College doesn't have an agreement with, Nguyen said that it is the student's responsibility to do the vetting and work with the College to review financial aspects. This ensures that the transfer of credits is handled appropriately.
Faculty such as Keith Peterman, Ph.D., and David Fyfe, Ph.D., from departments such as Physical Sciences and History and Political Science, work closely with the overseas program. They have developed well-respected study abroad programs in countries such as Costa Rica and India. Nguyen has enjoyed gathering details and coordinating these programs so that information is readily accessible and the programs are better integrated with GenNext. She said, "Part of studying abroad is [having] a sense of an academically and educationally focused lens where you can get more out of the experience than you would alone." She looks forward to working with faculty and students as new study abroad options evolve.