Stephanie Tilley serves as a Program Coordinator at Prairie View A&M University. She is an energetic woman that is passionate about international education. Keep reading below to gain a bit of insight on why she loves her job!
Barcelona SAE: So can you tell me about your current position at Prairie View A&M University?
Stephanie: I’m one of the Program Coordinators at Prairie View A&M University, and within my role, I do study abroad advising, programming and international fellowship advising (which involves students interested in the Gilman and the critical language scholarships). I also help with the operational aspect of study abroad which means my roles vary throughout the year. For example, during the school year, advising is more important – while planning and working on the operations would be the focus during the summer.
Barcelona SAE: Nice! Can you tell me what, if any, have been your biggest challenges in this field?
Stephanie: I would say accessibility and resources. One thing I’ve noticed in international education is a lot of students want to go abroad, but they often don’t have the funds for it or the resources. There are even some HBCU’s that don’t have an office – or it might just be one person with very limited resources to provide to students.
Barcelona SAE: Interesting! So do you think that corresponds to when students graduate? For instance, if alumni from HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges & Universities) are looking for jobs, do you think they are as aware of this field compared to people who go to like PWIs (Primarily White Institutions), or is it just the field itself?
Stephanie: I feel like both are unaware. So I had the opportunity to work at several different institutions. When I was an undergrad it was at a PWI and private. My grad school which was an HSI (Hispanic Serving Institution) and now I am at Prairie View, a HBCU where I’ll be getting my doctorate. Through all of them I was interested in international education. I did study abroad several times in undergrad and for grad school I was looking at it, but because of my year round position I wasn’t able to. Working in student affairs, that’s what I got my masters in, I think in general people are unaware of the help they could give students by being an advisor or a counselor and that it’s an actual field until they’re very well connected to someone or have a department that supports them. For example let’s say they have the Multi-Cultural department and they build those relationships and realize “Wow this is actually a field that I can do”. That’s actually what a lot of my students who I have built relationships with end coming and telling me. They’ll say “Oh Miss Stephanie how did you get this job?” but it’s because I did study abroad and realized it’s a field that builds relationships. I worked at a community college too – and while that position wasn’t related to study abroad, I was in student engagement and they did some study abroad and service learning.
Barcelona SAE: Is there anything that Prairie View A&M is doing right now, or will be doing in the future, that you’re most excited about?
Stephanie: Yeah so we do have some good things that we are cooking up, but we’re not going to announce them just yet because we are still in the idea stage. But of course, at the end of the year we are hoping to be doing some great stuff. One thing that we are doing that we are really proud of is our international festival. In the past it used to be done outside of our office, but last year it was in our office and it was the best attended that it has ever been. It really helped to produce a relationship between our students and our international students and really brought together our whole campus. Another thing that we are really proud of is our study abroad banquet that we throw every year. We’re looking forward to this year because our president will be there, she was a fulbrighter and is a big supporter of study abroad. We’re always trying to think of innovative ways to help our students.
Barcelona SAE: I look forward to hearing about what happens later this year – that all sounds very exciting! I know you said you are working on getting your doctorate right now, but was there anything else that you are working on or any goals for the future?
Stephanie: I feel like I’m blessed to do what I love, because travel is apart of me, relationships is a part of me. So just growing as an educator in different ways. I’m really excited about my doctoral program because I know it will strengthen my skills and understanding of how to continue improving in the field. There is a deficit in research regarding internationalization efforts. I want to know about the impact of study abroad on black students and I want to go deeper. I look forward to growing as an international scholar. Right now I’m a practitioner, but sometime in the future I want to transition into a professor of international education. In my previous role there was a teaching component and I really miss that. But, I am definitely here to stay.