An increasingly globalized market requires professionals with international knowledge and experience. The Haslam College of Business aims to provide the opportunities and support needed to gain such experience. Sara Easler, Director of the Office of International Programs and Study Abroad, leads the effort to increase student participation in faculty-directed, summer and semester-length programs The numbers demonstrate her team’s success.
“This past year we’ve seen 33 percent growth in our faculty-directed programming, while overall participation across all programs grew 20 percent to an all-time high of 367 students with an international study experience in a single academic year,” Easler says.
Easler’s IPSA office informs and engages students through one-on-one advising appointments, information sessions and classroom presentations. Here students learn about the variety of programs available. These range from the one-week First Year Experience program to spring term/spring break experiences to month-, semester-, or academic-year-long programs.
The IPSA office also provides students with information on the availability of scholarships to defray costs. Combining scholarships like the HOPE Scholarship, the Haslam Undergraduate Study Abroad Scholarship and Center for International Education Study Abroad Scholarship, among many others, makes international travel attainable for many Haslam students.
“After reaching out to Sara to learn more about financial aid, I ended up receiving both the CIE and Haslam International Travel scholarships,” says Selin Anitsal, a marketing and entrepreneurship senior who traveled to Dublin, Ireland, during the summer of 2018. “If I wasn’t awarded these scholarships, I probably wouldn’t have the opportunity to study abroad. Overall, I feel very fortunate for the invaluable experience.”
Beyond help with scholarships, the IPSA office assists students navigating scheduling conflicts that might derail their study abroad goals. This proved crucial to Jessica Howard, a senior majoring in marketing and international business who received advising from Allison LeClere, program coordinator for IPSA.
“It had always been my plan to travel abroad the spring semester of my junior year, but my responsibilities as a Haslam College of Business Ambassador ruled that out,” Howard says. “Allison sat down with me for a solid hour and talked through my options to allow me to study abroad and graduate on time.”
With LeClere’s guidance, Howard selected a mini-term trip to Barcelona, Spain, a dream destination for her since seeing “The Cheetah Girls 2” as a young girl.
Each study abroad program combines opportunities to learn about international business firsthand through meetings with local business representatives and chances to experience the culture of the destination city. Whether trying their hand at the Gaelic Games in Dublin or being swept up in the rhythm and passion of a flamenco performance in Barcelona, students gain much more than college credits when studying abroad.
For Alyx Thompson, a junior in economics who recently traveled to Prague, Czech Republic, the most meaningful benefit from her trip is less tangible.
“I’ve gained so much confidence from [my program] and now know I can handle almost any situation,” she said.
Howard agrees, saying, “Having the opportunity to go to Barcelona and visit these different companies definitely affirmed my belonging there and my ability to succeed. I know one day I will be back in Barcelona.”
For Sara Easler and her team, the goal is for as many students as possible to gain this confidence. “From academic year 2015/16 to 2016/17, we increased the number of graduates with study abroad experience by five percent, a number we are working diligently to see grow with each future graduating class,” she said.
Visit the IPSA website (https://haslam.utk.edu/study-abroad) to start planning your international study experience today. Here you’ll find information about summer, semester and exchange programs as well as scholarship options.