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The evolution of Study Abroad

Photo Courtesy of UTEP College of Engineering
File Photo

The study abroad program at UTEP is undergoing a series of structural changes that aim to make the program more efficient while expanding the number of students who can participate.

One of the more obvious changes was the study abroad office’s recent move to room 203 in Union East from its previous location in the Mike Loya Building. The new location is also where the Office of International Programs resides, which was a deliberate attempt to encourage student interaction with international programs to become more streamlined.

Catie McCorry-Andalis, associate vice president and dean of students, said the move is part of a broader initiative.

“One of our goals is to offer the UTEP community a one-stop-shop when it comes to international affairs,” McCorry-Andalis said. “Therefore, by relocating study abroad to the Union within the Office of International Programs we are able to service our community, particularly our students, more holistically and efficiently.”

Lydia Santoscoy, a senior marketing major, went to Costa Rica through study abroad in the spring semester of 2015. She is going to Cuba for the upcoming summer semester.

“I actually thought that’s where it was located originally—when I first went to study abroad—so it’s a good move,” she said.

The structural changes also created the new position of director of global outreach, which has yet to be filled.

McCorry-Andalis said the new director will help increase faculty-led experiences including those that involve cultural awareness, language acquisition and research by working alongside the Office of the Provost, student affairs, enrollment services, other UTEP programs and universities around the world.

“UTEP’s entire approach to study abroad, international student support and global engagement is being revitalized through a restructuring that reflects today’s students and their goals,” McCorry-Andalis said.

UTEP’s Quality Enhancement Plan is driving many of the changes. The QEP is a requirement that all colleges must create every 10 years in order to remain accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

The association grants a college the ability to hand out degrees such as a bachelor’s degree or a doctorate.

UTEP’s QEP partly focuses on “high-impact practices,” which are hands-on experiences outside of the classroom that gives students practical lessons they can transfer to their professional career.

When asked about how study abroad has impacted her career Santoscoy said it has helped her grow culturally.

“Dealing with people in any career helps to understand there is different values and motivations for different behaviors,” Santoscoy said. “It helps you be more understanding and culturally sensitive.”

While the changes are going to be focused on increased efficiency in administrative duties, the real aim is to expand the program and allow students to have greater personalized experiences that suits their future career.

“Our overall goal is to increase the number of UTEP students studying abroad, whether it is through traditional exchanges, faculty-led programs or short-term, research-specific experiences,” McCorry-Andalis said. “We want students to understand the interconnectivity among curricular and co-curricular participation and study abroad­—a high-impact activity—is an experience we want our students to have.”

Study abroad is also going to be increasing their focus on Mexico and Latin American countries. UTEP hopes to increase the number of students coming in from these countries as well as sending its own students to these regions.

UTEP already has some experience with Latin America. Last fall, UTEP hosted more than 50 Brazilian exchange students.

“Studying in Costa Rica allowed me to learn more about cultural perspective and its influences on consumer behavior and specific tactics, such as gesture marketing rituals. That was awesome, I loved all my classes I had in Costa Rica,” Santoscoy said. “I would encourage students to consider study abroad as a personal growth and educational investment.”

To contact study abroad for more information, you can email [email protected], call 915-747-6273 or go to their new location at Union East, room 203.

Christian Vazquez may be reached at [email protected].

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The evolution of Study Abroad