By Kayla Joseph, TODOS Engagement Coordinator, Barcelona SAE
I sat down with Dr. Selena Judon-Monk from St. Augustine’s University to discover where her passion for international education comes from and how that led her to create a Customized Program with Barcelona SAE. I first met Dr. Monk at Barcelona SAE’s 10th Anniversary Site Visit in July 2019, and from the moment we met, I could see the excitement on her face as she spoke about how she wanted her students to create a Barcelona experience all their own. Dr. Monk is a kind, intelligent woman that is a true champion for getting HBCU students to go abroad.
Can you tell me a little about what you teach and what inspired you to go into that field?
I did a Masters in Biology and a Doctorate in Public Health. I worked at the Durham Health Department for 7 years doing Program Management, but eventually left to do research. Through it all, I learned that my passion still laid in teaching. I currently teach Global Health, and as a part of the course, I encourage all of my students to go abroad so I encourage them to connect with the Study Abroad Office.
What are you working on right now?
I never studied abroad myself, but I’ve been lucky enough to travel to a variety of different countries on my own and with students. This past summer, I took a group of students to Costa Rica as part of a project; and what I found was that it was very difficult to coordinate a program on my own.
A grad student of mine once made her own itinerary in Haiti and loved it, but before she left, she connected with Christina from Barcelona SAE for advice and tips. That’s how I first got in contact with Christina and I appreciate the support she provided for my students to experience going abroad and everything the world has to offer.
What inspired you to create a Customized Program with Barcelona SAE?
I loved that I could design a program with Barcelona SAE that was the perfect time length for my institution. I also wanted to make sure that I could include Global Health in the program, and it was wonderful to create something that brought the textbook to real life. The program had to relate academically and personally – something that students could use for their future career. Since my institution is an HBCU, it’s important to me that students of color can fully experience life outside of the U.S.
Unfortunately, we did not have enough students participate in order to run the program. We needed at least 10 students from St. Augustine’s or 10 from surrounding universities; so while we weren’t able to run this year, I look forward to trying again in the future.
Did you always want to work at an HBCU?
I did my undergrad at an HBCU (North Carolina A&T State University) and grew up in a family of HBCU graduates. When I was making the switch to teaching, I was already in Durham which meant I was somewhat limited to the area because of family. I liked St. Augustine’s because it was private and smaller. Students are at a disadvantage as students of color already, so the intimacy allows me to customize the learning and cater to individualized needs.