Erika Quiñonez MAIEM '17 works as Study Abroad Coordinator at the University of Miami, a private research university with more than 17,000 students, serving undergraduate and graduate students in more than 180 majors and programs.
What is the most fulfilling aspect of your current work?
I am grateful to be in a role where I have the opportunity to assist in facilitating the education abroad experience for incoming and outgoing students possessing a range of personal and academic aspirations. I try to match their personal drive and energy by providing intentional programming and comprehensive support throughout their experience. Coordinating programming and collaborating with study abroad returnees through our Global Ambassador program is another aspect I appreciate.
In addition to advising, I appreciate working at a higher education institution where there is incredible potential and encouragement for building partnerships with faculty, academic areas, and student affairs departments across campus. The opportunity to involve multiple voices, insights, and expertise into the efforts of the office will ultimately improve the quality and strengthen the impact that our programs have on the community.
What aspects of the IEM program most prepared you for your professional life?
In general, the International Education Management (IEM) program assisted me in identifying and tuning into my strengths and weaknesses as an individual and future professional in the field of international education. My daily interactions with Institute colleagues and professors really allowed me to challenge, expand and refine my understanding of the intersections and complexities of educational theory and practice.
In regards to particular courses-- I have been able to draw from and utilize skills from all of them in my role as study abroad program coordinator--particularly in the areas of: intercultural communication, staff management, student services, campus internationalization, comparative int'l education, student recruitment, and design & assessment.
Did your career path diverge from initial plans upon graduation? How did you navigate any changes?
I did not enter or leave the IEM program with a distinct plan or necessarily knowing where exactly I fit in the field of international education. I initially thought I would choose a practicum in California or Latin America working with cultural exchange programs. As the year progressed, I broadened my scope and found a great opportunity to complete my practicum in the ISSS office at Florida International University. The professional networks, support, and skills I acquired during practicum reaffirmed my interest in building on this new foundation in the Miami community and ultimately led me to my current position as Program Coordinator at the University of Miami Study Abroad Office. Flexibility and adaptability have been crucial when navigating such shifts in new cultural and professional environments.
What are the greatest challenges that you see facing the field of international education?
Many structural barriers and challenges persist in the field --many of which revolve around access and representation. The need to support and engage marginalized groups, before during and after their education abroad experience remains crucial. I believe that by making all stages of the education abroad experience more accessible and inclusive, the overall quality of programs and experience is inherently enhanced. In order to do this, there is a continual need to develop a genuine understanding of the needs and barriers of students throughout their exposure to international education, as well as ensure that such “equitable” policies and practices are sustained to best serve the dynamic population.
Do you have any additional comments or advice to share to current students?
Make the most of your time at MIIS by challenging yourself and your colleagues. Take courses outside of your comfort zone and utilize the amazing support system and resources that surround you.
Pilar Diaz de la Rubia MAIEM '18 is completing her practicum with the Middlebury Schools Abroad in Madrid, Spain. She is working on two projects: the Sede Prim and the International Education Management Spain Leapfrog Initiative.
International Education Management alumna Whitney Miller, assistant marketing and recruitment manager at INTO George Mason University shares her at the Institute and beyond.
"The most challenging part of my job (also the most interesting for me!), is understanding each culture I work with and then utilizing international competencies to effectively work with them."
Two Middlebury Institute students transformed a report on how to promote international education opportunities to high school students into a real-life field trip.