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Student Ambassadors

Student Ambassador Program

The Education Abroad Student Ambassadors are a team of students who assist the Education Abroad office in their efforts to promote study abroad. They have studied abroad previously and are eager to share their experiences. Please feel free to contact them if you are a VCU student who wants to learn about study abroad from a student perspective!

How to become a Student Ambassador

Student Ambassadors

Jonnathan Alvis

Jonnathan Alvis
Partnership Exchange: Sorrento, Italy
Major: Forensic Science

What is your most memorable experience from your study abroad program?

My most memorable experience while studying abroad is all new people I got to meet and know abroad. I met people who I was studying with and developed friendships with them. Also, I enjoyed the amount of traveling I did. I went to different parts of Italy, then also visited Spain, Ireland, and Switzerland. Being exposed to another culture changes the way you view things and gives you a new perspective of the world. 

What is something you want other students to know about studying abroad?

It is an amazing experience. There is nothing like it; you have so much fun while learning many things. Things that will not only help you in school but also life lessons. My study abroad experiences will be some of the memories I will hold on to forever and remember throughout my life. Also, you have to put the effort in if you really want to study abroad. It never hurts to be curious, and there are many study abroad options. Making that first appointment with an Education Abroad Adviser is the first step.

 

Madison Cirillo

Madison Cirillo
Faculty-led Program: Jamaica
Major: Psychology

What is your most memorable experience from your study abroad program?

My most memorable experience was snorkeling with my fellow students in the crystal clear blue water of Jamaica. I loved the sense of freedom and the exotic beauty of the ocean. Then after our trip, we took a small boat out to this little island where natives caught and boiled us fresh lobster right from the sea. We ate as a family together and enjoyed our delicious meal with rock lobster and rice with beans. We sat out in the sun and soaked up all the work we had done for the people of that community and bonded together over great food and conversation.

What is something you want other students to know about studying abroad?

I want other students to know that this is a once in a lifetime experience, and the older you get the more responsibilities you may have. Take the chance now to go when you are young and have less obligations. I would also tell them once you travel for the first time you'll want to keep traveling and exploring! Going on a study abroad trip will help you grow as a person and a student.  
 

Kia Jordan

Kia Jordan
Shanghai, China 
Major: Fashion

What is your most memorable experience from your study abroad program?

I was in a program with twelve other American students and seven of us became very close. We were all from different backgrounds and different educational fields. We referred to ourselves as "The Real World: Shanghai." I most vividly remember us discussing finding the next step after returning to the states. "Where do we go from here?" "How do we share this entire experience with everyone?" That evening we discussed politics, family backgrounds, college life, and career goals. We laughed, we shared stories and we talked about how we missed our loved ones back home. We set individual goals and our plans to reach them. The energy in that room was something I had never experienced before. In that moment, everyone was vulnerable; it was a no judgment zone. Despite our different backgrounds, we came to the conclusion that we all had one thing in common. And that was our ability to take the untraveled road, to take on a journey unsure of our destination. We all took the steps to be in Shanghai. It was absolutely amazing to meet and interact with people that have an opposite, yet strikingly similar view on life.  

What is something you want other students to know about studying abroad?

One of my professors in Shanghai told me that "you have to have the right attitude, otherwise you won't survive in any environment." This is a life lesson that can be applied to any moment in your life. The ability to adapt is not as common as you think. When you make that initial decision to study abroad, forget about the expenses, forget about the "how" and "when." Any international experience is invaluable and you truly succeed when you fully immerse yourself into that culture. You come out on top when you learn how to navigate and adapt to that environment. In that moment, your personal opinions and views are set aside and you unconsciously build a new mindset. A mindset that will carry you into a world of cultural knowledge, meaningful interactions and ultimately impact others.  

 

Dejah Lee

Dejah Lee
Dresden, Germany
Major: Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering

What is your most memorable experience from your study abroad program?

The most memorable experience from my study abroad experience was mountain hiking in Switzerland and working on the nuclear reactors!

What is something you want other students to know about studying abroad? 

I want other students to know studying abroad can be affordable and has valuable life experiences outside of just academics. I was able to conduct research that I would not have been able to in Virginia, and had a very valuable professional experience while learning about the history of the nuclear industry in Germany and in Europe.
 
 

Maria-Grace Luther

Maria-Grace Luther
Florence, Italy
Major: Fashion

What is your most memorable experience from your study abroad program?

I discovered a lot about myself in the journey to and from Italy, as well as small trips such as my weekend getaway to visit a friend in a more rural part of Italy. I received little help and very poor directions from my friend, and as a result I had to rely solely on my own research, a bus driver that didn’t speak any English, and only 50mb of data. I found that these moments of uncertainty and nervousness tested my ability to adapt and face situations that aren’t always easy. I walked away from these moments with a newfound confidence in my ability to handle the unknown.

What is something you want other students to know about studying abroad?

Moments of uncertainty are inevitable when studying abroad. Where you go and what you learn from those moments will ultimately change you for the better. Whether you know it or not, you become just a little bit more understanding of the bigger picture when you study abroad. Shaping who you are and your personal goals and aspirations, meeting new people and forming new friendships, overcoming barriers and gaining real-world life skills are all possible things to attain if you take advantage of the time you have and make the most of your time and experiences while you’re there! 

 

Rowan Mahdi

Rowan Mahdi 
Istanbul, Turkey 
Major: Information Systems

What is your most memorable experience from your study abroad program?

I was walking with some friends one evening and a five-year-old boy was selling roses by himself. He walked up to me and asked me if I wanted one. And I said of course, and asked him where he was from. He said he was Syrian. I knew about the Syrian refugee crisis in Turkey and heard about it in the news, but seeing the poor little boy working, trying to make money at such a young age really broke my heart.  Study abroad opens your eyes to so much more than what you can see in the United States.  My time in Turkey has encouraged me to apply for the Peace Corps upon graduation from VCU.

What is something you want other students to know about studying abroad?

I want other students to know that no matter where they choose to go, they will have an incredible time and learn so much about themselves as well as other cultures. The majority of learning will definitely be outside of the classroom. Students can make lifelong friends from across the globe, indulge in unique foods, possibly pick up another language and most importantly, students will have an unforgettable experience full of self-discovery and cultural exposure.

 

Valentina Vega

Valentina Vega
ISEP: Brussels, Belgium
Major: Homeland Security

What is your most memorable experience from your study abroad program? 

Waking up every morning and simply taking in the most breathtaking scenery in Brussels as I walked to school. There was nothing like seeing the people having their pastries and coffee out in the terraces of the cafes. That will be the hardest thing to forget.
 

What is something you want other students to know about studying abroad?

Regardless if you're an introvert or extrovert, studying abroad will introduce you to so many cultures and people. You will see the world in brand new eyes and it is the most beautiful thing to experience.
 
 

Christina Webb

Christina Webb
Partnership Exchange: Curtin University
Major: Kinesiology & Health Sciences
 

What is your most memorable experience from your study abroad program?

There were countless experiences I got to have abroad and all of them are equally amazing to me! 
 
One of the week long breaks we had from school I went with a group of friends on a 14 hour road trip. The road trip itself was awesome because it was through a part of the Australian outback (crazy cool!). When we got to Exmouth the main attraction was the whale sharks. We spent a day of a charter and got to swim with the biggest fish in the ocean! It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life! 
The rest of that week brought opportunities to snorkel the Ningaloo Reef (which is just as amazing as the Great Barrier Reef). I saw stingrays, reef sharks, lion fish so many other beautiful fish. Those are experiences I will remember for the rest of my life.   

What is something you want other students to know about studying abroad?

It is easy and affordable to study abroad! It's as simple as that.  Visit the Education Abroad Office to find your perfect program!
 

Becoming a Student Ambassador

How do I apply to be a Student Ambassador?

Student ambassador positions for the 2016-17 school year are now filled.  We will hire for the 2017-18 school year in summer 2017.  Returned VCU study abroad students who are interested in applying should email Sarah Carrier (syoung8@vcu.edu) for more information.
 

Education Abroad Student Ambassadors

What would I do as a Student Ambassador?

Each Student Ambassador will serve for a full academic year, 30 hours per semester (an average of two hours per week). Their duties will include some combination of the following:

  •  
  • Answering questions and distributing materials at information tables across campus
  • Giving brief presentations to classes and student organizations
  • Assisting with Education Abroad office events, such as the Study Abroad Fair, Returnee Conference, storytelling night, etc.
  • One-on-one advising for students interested in studying in their same location or program
  • Assisting with Pre-Departure Orientations for outgoing study abroad students
  • Helping the Education Abroad office develop creative new methods for outreach to the campus community

Who can apply?

Any VCU student who has studied abroad in college may apply, regardless of major. Candidates should, however, have at least two semesters left at VCU.

The ideal candidate is:

  • Enthusiastic about study abroad and eager to share their experience with their peers
  • Responsible and reliable
  • Committed to working at least 2 hours per week throughout the entire academic year
  • Punctual
  • Responsive to emails/calls and has strong communication skills
  • Interested in learning about the field of international education
     

Benefits of being a Student Ambassador

  • Hands-on experience working in international education
  • Learn about the field and make professional connections
  • Meet faculty, staff, and students throughout university
  • Help other students study abroad
  • Help build a more global campus


Past Ambassadors

2014-15

Amanda Carter 
Whitney Downing
Callie Magee
Andrea Ward 

2013-14

Kevin Herrera
Sarah Vedomske 
Melanie Willing

2012-13

Rebecca Schmid 
Chelsea Thornton