Akeya Porter

International Students Academic Advisor

Loyola University Chicago

Alumna, Student Support Services, Indiana University

My interest in international education began in 2005, when I was awarded the opportunity to participate in COE’s Study Tour Program for TRIO students at the University of Liverpool in England. The experience helped broaden my understanding of the world, sparked my passion for travel, and, unbeknownst to me at the time, changed my career path. I was eager to learn more and do more, so much so that in 2006—after a study abroad experience in Kenya—I went back to the University of Liverpool as a student intern with the Educational Opportunities Program at the University of Liverpool. These life-changing moments led me to the work that I do now. I currently work at Loyola University Chicago as the International Students Academic Advisor. I get to work with approximately 300 international students by helping them navigate the U.S. educational system, develop academic goals, and create a memorable study abroad experience they will remember for the rest of their lives.

There is no way I would be working in international education if it weren’t for the TRIO program. I almost didn’t participate in the COE Study Tour because I thought it was a farfetched idea that “other” people participated in, not first-generation students. However, in true TRIO fashion, my SSS advisor encouraged me to apply and served as a reference. Participating in SSS as an undergraduate at Indiana University afforded me the privilege to attend college, challenge myself and my thinking, and become a global citizen that I never dreamed I would be.

Lizbeth Arias

Senior Education Abroad Advisor

University of Nevada-Las Vegas

Alumna, Student Support Services, University of Nevada-Las Vegas

I currently serve as the Senior Education Abroad Advisor for the University of Nevada Las Vegas’ Office of International Programs. In my current role at UNLV, a campus that ties for second most diverse in the nation, I recruit and advise undergraduate and graduate students on the possibilities of international education, facilitate curriculum integration, and provide pre-departure orientations for students traveling all over the world. I strive to create a more globally-engaged campus where our students can take what they’ve gained through their time abroad and diffuse it throughout different parts of their lives.

The work I do and the students I collaborate with are very dear to me, as I am deeply aware of how the study abroad experience affected my own life. In 2010, as a TRIO participant at UNLV, I received an email about an opportunity to study in Liverpool, England though COE’s International Leadership (now Keith Sherin Global Leaders) program. I did not have a passport or any personal experience with international travel and neither did my family. As a first-generation U.S. citizen and a first-generation college student just discovering my interests in political science, the prospect of studying overseas was completely unprecedented and unfamiliar. My acceptance into the COE program helped set me on a trajectory which I would come to fully embrace.

My experience in England fortified me with the knowledge that not only could I too pursue international experiences, but that I could thrive in them. It is a profound thing to learn that what one thought was unattainable is actually possible. I returned to the States, studied in China for seven months, completed my bachelor’s in political science, started my master’s in comparative politics, was awarded a human rights fellowship based in the U.S. and Europe, and am now pursuing a career in international education. TRIO was a formative part of my personal and professional development, and for that I will always be grateful.

Sylvia Jons

Manager, Generation Study Abroad

Institute of International Education

Alumna, Talent Search and Student Support Services,
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

With roots in the cornfields of Lincoln, Nebraska to studying abroad in Seoul, Korea and now currently working in international education and exchange in New York’s concrete jungle, I am a TRIO alumna and a long-time supporter of the program. I began my journey with TRIO as a student in Education Talent Search (thanks, Bill Waters) at Lincoln High School. After graduating, I was accepted and attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where I fondly recall spending countless hours in the Student Support Services office with dedicated staff members and was supported by TRIO staff—in particular—Joan Mendoza Gorham. I also worked as a student assistant in the TRIO office during the school year and during a summer, I was privileged enough to serve as an RA for the Upward Bound Math/Science program for 9th and 10th grade students who stayed on campus and took academic courses in the university setting.

I truly believe that every student should have the opportunity to go to college and that every student should also have the opportunity for a meaningful experience abroad during college.

TRIO was pivotal in helping me attend college and also succeed once there. Studying abroad provided me with personal and professional benefits that continue to have an impact—one of the most noteworthy is that I changed my career and academic trajectory while studying abroad. I extended my semester abroad and worked for an international education association in a university in Seoul. While studying abroad, I realized that I wanted to focus my career on higher education administration and international education opportunities for the next generation of students.

Studying abroad expanded my worldview and gave me a competitive edge in the workforce. I came back to pursue a graduate degree in Higher Education Administration focused on international education and eventually moved to New York City. I currently work on the Generation Study Abroad initiative at the Institute of International Education (IIE). I go to work determined and passionate to help facilitate the Generation Study Abroad goal of doubling the number of Americans who study abroad by 2020.

**If you want to learn more about Generation Study Abroad, go to www.generationstudyabroad.org.

Other news