Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Thank you to David J. Smith for bringing domestic student exchange to the conversation on global initiatives in Getting to “E Pluribus Unum”. As president of the nonprofit National Student Exchange organization and a former NSE campus coordinator, I shared the following comments.
National Student Exchange was founded in 1968, a time when our nation was searching to understand its identity, history, and how differences fit into the idea of American culture. What began as three institutions exchanging seven students has grown into a premier network of 160 colleges and universities exchanging 2,000 students annually throughout the United States, Canada, and U.S. Territories of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Guam.
Initiatives to enhance global engagement often overlook the diversity of North America in their quest. Scholarships and fellowships that promote international education are rarely available for domestic study away. Domestic exchanges seldom satisfy core or general educational requirements for global engagement or cultural studies, despite their cultural breadth.
Cultural agility can be greatly enhanced crossing state and provincial borders, not just oceans. NSE member campuses report domestic study away as a high impact practice supporting student satisfaction and persistence. Increasing populations of underrepresented and first-generation students are choosing NSE study away, emphasizing the need for access and choice in these opportunities. As noted by Sobania and Braskamp (2009), recent college graduates are more likely to have a post-college career with diverse colleagues from their own country than from other parts of the world.
NSE campuses range in enrollment from 600 to more than 50,000 students. In addition to AAU Research I universities, NSE member campuses include:
12 Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU)
21 Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI)
7 Urban 13 universities
14 Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC)
As noted, succeeding in our political and global reality requires professionals who can operate effectively and empathetically in cross-cultural and international environments. National Student Exchange and domestic study away programs are not simply study abroad alternatives or preparatory opportunities; they are academic and personal experiences to be celebrated and encouraged for the dimension they bring to college students, degree programs, our workforce, and communities.
Sobania, N. & Braskamp, L. A. (2009). Study abroad or study away: It’s not merely semantics. Peer Review 11 (4).
It’s the end of 2016 and by most accounts, many are ready to see it in the rearview mirror. As conflicting as this year has been, I had wonderful opportunities for travel and forging a new professional path. It was a year of challenges, sure, but it included great time with mentors, friends, and family.
And so onward… we rouse the chase, and wake the slumbering morn of 2017. See you there!
Today, I began a new chapter in my career as president of the National Student Exchange (NSE). A not-for-profit education consortium with 170 member campuses throughout the United States and Canada, NSE facilitates the academic exchange of 2,200 undergraduate students annually.
Why encourage study away?
- 58% of students go to a college within 100 miles of their hometown
- 72% of students stay in-state for college
- Only 11% of students choose a campus 500 miles away or further
We have a great big, beautiful country (and continent) full of people, culture, and adventure. Encourage your students to get out there and see it.
A while back I hinted at a new opportunity that would be headed my way. After months of discussions and negotiations I am very pleased to announce that I am the new vice president of National Student Exchange (NSE). The NSE appointment is half time allowing a continuation of current responsibilities with my university.
NSE is a not-for profit education consortium that provides exchange and study away opportunities to students enrolled at its 170 member colleges and universities in the United States, Canada, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Established in 1968, NSE has provided exchange opportunities to more than 110,000 students. I helped to initiate the program on our campus in 1997 and have been the NSE Coordinator for 18 years. In this position, I have served on NSE’s governing board, mentored new coordinators, and have been a regular presenter on assessment and best practices at NSE’s annual placement conference.
Of course, an opportunity like this could not happen without partnership and support from my university. I am very grateful to my colleagues and supervisors who have helped me navigate this new leadership adventure. I am certain we will find many rewards.
Poor, sad, little neglected blog. I used to think that I did not have time for writing while I finished my dissertation. This year demonstrated that a preoccupied mind prevents reflection as well. I have been working on this draft for many days and struggling to verbalize the happy and not so happy of it all. Americans are supposed to be the outlier on the happy scale, more upbeat about their days than most people. When we are not in that place, it can be hard.
At the end of last year, I was not selected for a promotion that I fiercely wanted and had stringently prepared. It was a position I had strived for in the past, only to be discouraged from applying due to lack of a terminal degree. This “job” was not the driving force behind completing my Ph.D., but the degree was one of a series of steps that I took to prepare for a “next step” in my career. Side note, being rejected from a dream job five days before holiday vacation is not ideal for one’s self-esteem and seasonal jocularity. I recommend against it all costs.
This year began with a new boss (not getting the “job” meant working for the person who did) and the adjustments that come with a change in leadership. It also began with a new opportunity.
A position with an education non-profit came on the horizon and a new job search began. For those of us who lament the prodigious time required for campus employment, this process reached new heights. Non-profits include a scaffolding of decision makers. Whether in discussion with a screening committee, organization leaders, elected board, and the membership; each audience sought a different answer and a different set of skills. The job posted in January and concluded with a hire announcement in late September (more on this later). A colleague termed it as the job search that rivaled a pregnancy.
Meanwhile, real life work this year included financial shortfalls, intense budget negotiations, staff reorganization to address financial shortfalls, a staff member on family leave, and a staff member following a partner to new employment. Even knowing in advance, it is difficult to prepare for the transition of a dedicated colleague. Rewriting position descriptions, preparing a search committee, waiting on HR approvals, the calendar was inching along. And all of this while attending to the needs of smart and amazing students (who sometimes have tragic days) and doing my best to be a good leader and mentor for the amazing student staff and graduate assistants that I am lucky to employ. The wiser than her years, Stacy Oliver-Sikorski, recently opined “There are really awful days amidst the really great days, and we need to be more honest with ourselves and others about that.”
Facing those “awful” days and separating work from family needs was complicated this year. I am enormously grateful for a loving and supportive partner who keeps me grounded. I am happy and proud to be mom to an amazing teen and tween who are high achieving and in search of their strengths. They are my most important work every day.
I will be embarking on a new adventure in the not so distant future. Despite every obstacle, 2014 will be remembered on the happy scale as the year that I resolved to get my dream job. And succeeded.
More soon. Happy 2015!
This will be an excellent opportunity to really get to know myself, network and make new friends — and prove to myself that I can succeed in any environment. ~ William Rabe, ISU sophomore
Next fall, an Iowa State University student will experience a National Student Exchange (NSE) to the University of Alabama — just like his father did 31 years ago as a college student in North Dakota.
It was a fateful trip for William Rabe’s father, William Rabe III, who is a pediatrician.
“He met my mother there in an organic chemistry lab,” said Rabe, a sophomore in chemical engineering and biochemistry from Ramsey, Minn. Read more.
NSE provides students with a domestic alternative to study abroad. Nearly 200 universities participate, placing 3,000 students each year. NSE offers low-cost options for students to study out of state, at culturally diverse campuses, and with program compatibility to their home campus. Credits are applied toward a student’s degree.
As the Iowa State NSE Coordinator since 1997, I love sharing the NSE story. Is your campus a member of National Student Exchange? They should BE!