James Colasurdo, Staff Writer
In December 2018, Saint Martin’s University welcomes new Study Abroad Coordinator Melissa (Missy) Wessman, who can be found in Old Main Room 430, the Office of International Programs and Development,
Before a brief work hiatus to raise her two daughters, Wessman received her Bachelor of Arts in English, and her Master of Arts in Communication & Leadership from Gonzaga University. Wessman states, “I used to work at Gonzaga University, and while I don’t need to be a teacher, I love working in higher education.” In applying to Saint Martin’s, Wessman thought, “It was time for me to start looking for a job again after staying at home for the past seven years raising my two kids.” With her prior interests, including her love of travel, Wessman thought the job of being a study abroad coordinator was appealing.
As a study abroad coordinator, Wessman has the job of arranging study abroad trips for students. Wessman also develops study abroad programs, and recruits and prepares students to live and study in another country. Coordinators at universities will usually counsel students regarding credit transfers, suggested classes, and other logistics involved in studying abroad. Additional duties include informing students about travel necessities, such as insurance and visas, and providing training on cultural adjustment. They may also serve as the liaison between the school and the study abroad program or foreign university.
In addition to promoting available study abroad programs and recruiting students, study abroad coordinators need to be aware of current foreign and U.S. rules regarding immigration and travel. Study abroad coordinators help students in foreign countries by setting up study abroad programs. They coordinate traveling, council students looking to study abroad and help students prepare to live in another country.
Wessman states, “Saint Martin’s has four different types of Study Abroad programs and basically I’m the person in the background promoting them and keeping track of who is interested, who is studying, who is applying, and turning in their payments. If you are interested in going abroad I’m the person that you talk to, and then I can put you in the direction of the right program.” The four different types of study abroad programs at Saint Martin’s are through sister universities, study tours, partnership agreements, and non-credit education abroad.
For those interested in learning more about study abroad programs, know that the deadline for applying to programs for summer 2019 is Feb. 11, and the deadline for applying to programs for fall 2019 is April. Moreover, there is still time to apply for scholarships for study abroad.
Upcoming study tours include trips to Russia, France, and Medellin, Colombia. Non-credit education abroad programs include the Japanese Cultural Exchange Tour (JCET), Korean Cultural Exchange Program (KCEP), and Volunteer Teaching in Vietnam. Sister universities exist across the world, and partnerships include organizations such as Global Education Oregon (GEO), IFSA-Butler, and universities such as Syracuse University and the University of Glasgow.
With her two kids now in school, Wessman is back to work. She states, “The first place I looked was Saint Martin’s. I knew I wanted to be in the higher education arena and I love that it is a Catholic university, like Gonzaga. That’s my background, that’s where I came from and that’s where I’m comfortable. That plus my love of travel made me think this would be a great job.”