To help inform students of opportunities to study out of the country, the Education Abroad Office hosted their largest fair to date on Tuesday.
The Education Abroad Fair was held in the Bethancourt Ballroom within the MSC from 10 a.m to 3 p.m. on Oct. 1 by the Education Abroad Office. They hold the annual event between September and October as a means to showcase the many programs available to students and to inspire them to stop by the office. Students were able to learn about multiple opportunities, get free pizza, participate in raffles and vote in a photo contest.
Holly Hudson, executive director of Education Abroad, oversees the initiatives of the office as well as daily operations and planning for education abroad on campus. According to Hudson, the fair is their most significant event of the year, with the planning process spanning about four months. She said that education abroad is a great way to launch students into becoming global citizens and that the team wants to provide students with opportunities to study, research and volunteer.
“We know that students who participate in education abroad opportunities have a much higher chance of being employed after they graduate,” Hudson said. “We know that they are more successful in graduate school. We know that they become better learners and more empathetic, and really our goal is to have our students become engaged citizens of the world.”
Regardless of major, background or financial status, there’s a program to suit every student, Hudson said. Hudson said that students could learn more about programs at the Education Abroad Office in the Pavillion, online and by reaching out through email as well.
“We’re really excited at Texas A&M to be the number one school for the number of students that we send abroad in the US and we would really love to continue to grow those opportunities,” Hudson said. “We have so many opportunities and so many programs that we really just want students to know that they exist and that they’re available to them and to come visit us so we can make it happen.”
Julie Van Vechten-Smith, the senior director of university relations and inclusion initiatives at Academic Programs International, is a long-time affiliate provider who was present at the Education Abroad Fair. Van Vechten-Smith said that the focus of the API program is accessibility and affordability to help more students go abroad.
“Getting international experience is going to broaden their horizons, help them learn more about themselves in addition to the world around them,” Van Vechten-Smith said.
Van Vechten-Smith advises students to go to their study abroad offices for help with any questions, writing essays and financial information. There’s much support to be found at the education abroad office, Van Vechten-Smith said.
“It’s really great to be here and talk to students and tell them a step by step how they can make that happen, and it’s actually an achievable goal,” Van Vechten-Smith said. “A&M does a great job at hosting info sessions and helping students understand the process and walking them through that.”
Mechanical engineering senior and Education Abroad ambassador Jessica Jaksik advocates for students to study abroad and works to show inclusiveness and diversity in the programs. Jaksik said that her trips to Egypt and Salamanca, Mexico, were eye-opening experiences.
“Go somewhere you’re not comfortable with,” Jaksik said. “I mean, I knew no one going to Egypt with me on the program and so you really put yourself in a situation where you may not be the most comfortable. You may be going out of your comfort zone, but in the end, you learn so much.”