Meet our new Assistant Director of University Relations & Diversity Initiatives, Kyle Keith! Kyle (he/him/his) most recently served as the Assistant Director of Study Abroad at North Carolina State University and is a former member of our TODOS Sounding Board. We’re thrilled to have Kyle on our team as of August 1st and recently had the opportunity to get to know him a bit better!
Tell us a little about your background?
I grew-up in rural North Carolina – in the Blue Ridge mountains outside of Asheville (current and ancestral homelands of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee). Coming from a relatively isolated and insular Appalachian community in which I was the first person in my family to attend a four-year university, I was able to study abroad in Costa Rica for a semester thanks to the support of the Gilman Scholarship Program. It’s a bit of a cliché, but that experience catalyzed so much for me. I not only wanted to engage with more diverse cultures and communities after studying abroad, but I also became increasingly frustrated that the transformative experience I had abroad as an undergraduate was not accessible to so many students who, like myself, might’ve lacked the means and resources to even know studying abroad was an option.
Fast forward a few years (ok, maybe more than a few years), I have built my career around increasing access to education abroad for underserved populations and strengthening inclusive student support and advising practices. Before joining Barcelona SAE, I worked for 7 years in the education abroad offices at Wofford College (Go Terriers!) and at NC State University (Go Pack!). Working at two very different institutions – a small liberal arts college and a STEM-focused public land grant – has given me a unique perspective on the field, which I am excited to apply to my new role in university relations at Barcelona SAE.
Why did you want to work for Barcelona SAE?
Coming from the university side, Barcelona SAE always stood head and shoulders above other program providers for many reasons: its commitment and systemic approach to DEI, the singular focus on one city and doing it exceedingly well, and the staff who are driving important conversations in education abroad nationally.
It was an organization I not only enjoyed working with on a day-to-day basis sending students, but it was also an organization with which I felt a strong values alignment. When the opportunity to work for Barcelona SAE became available, I knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do so.
What do you hope to accomplish in your new role?
I think what I am most looking forward to in this new role is cultivating relationships with offices and advisors across the country.
Many of us in education abroad have been through so much (frankly too much!) over the past few years, personally and professionally, so I hope that our affiliate partners can view myself, and by extension Barcelona SAE, as someone who “gets it” and is ready and eager to support in whatever capacity – stepping in to facilitate a pre-departure orientation for outbound students, pitching in to set-up tables before the fair this fall, helping onboard new staff to our programs and resources, or simply being an empathetic ear on the other side of a Zoom call after a long week – different partners will need different things, much like our students, and I’m here and happy to be of service.
I’m also really excited just to be back in-person on campuses this fall – reconnecting with both students and partners, as the interest in international opportunities has certainly returned after the challenges of the past few years…and is now stronger than ever.
What do you think is the biggest challenge around education abroad/diversity and inclusion work today?
At the moment, one of the biggest challenges I see is shifting individual and organizational mindsets and resources (money, time, staffing, etc.) to recognize diversity and inclusion (and justice, equity, and belonging work too) as essential to our purpose and every aspect of our work as international educators, rather than a “nice to have” passion project or “icing on the cake.” I’m glad to be working alongside others at Barcelona SAE and the university partners on our (award-winning) TODOS Sounding Board who share this outlook and who can challenge myself and others to grow in new ways!