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Porntip Israsena: Student one semester, Interim Study Abroad Director the next

Submitted by Kezia Nanda on January 29, 2014 – 11:02 amNo Comment

Porntip Israsena, who just graduated from UALR this past December, is now the interim study abroad director.

Photo by Kezia Nanda

Photo by Kezia Nanda

Israsena reminisced, “My last week as a student was a month ago. I had a break and then when I came back I was no longer a student and I was a director, which is a very big difference.”

Israsena is appointed to facilitate the one year transition to the new study abroad permanent director.

She said this position is very rewarding. “The most exciting part is meeting with students and talking about study abroad opportunities that UALR offers and the different partner programs that students can go through. So, that’s really exciting to see students’ interest and needs and how they’re so unique,” Israsena said.

Although the interim director title is new to her, Israsena has been involved with study abroad for quite sometime.

Prior to graduating from UALR, Israsena was the program abroad assistant.  She replaced the former Study Abroad Director Allyson Hughes, who left in October.

While she was pursuing her degree in Spanish and international relations, she spent a couple of weeks studying abroad in Spain and Equador and eight months in Thailand.

She uses her experiences as a recent graduate and world traveler to understand other students’ concerns. “I know why they are worried about this and what they are thinking,” said Israsena, “I did study at UALR. So, knowing how the processes as a student helped [me to know] how to move forward with the policy procedures.”

Working in the university that one has just graduated from has its benefits. Israsena shared her experience of having friends who are still students at UALR. She said, “I mean we’re the same, we’re still friends, but it’s different because I’m not eating at the cafeteria on a meal plan, or I’m not just visiting or going to the library between classes.” She said she is now in an adjustment period to understand her role at UALR as a staff member as oppose to a student.

Other than being the contact person for study abroad opportunities, Israsena’s tasks include going through study abroad policy and application, making sure the procedures are up-to-date and comparable to other public universities, creating an engagement plan for the campus, reviewing the safety policy of each program abroad to make sure it is safe for UALR students. She also meets with faculty, financial staff, and records and administration staff to get the study abroad programs approved for credits.

There are currently seven UALR students that are studying overseas.

A group of student from the College of Business will take a trip to Costa Rica during spring break. Israsena said the business department awarded the scholarship for 10 students to study overseas.

Israsena encourages other departments to encourages their students to study abroad.

She said only nine percent of undergraduates in the United States study abroad.

Israsena said besides the rewarding experiences of living overseas, being apart of a small percentage of students will boost someone’s qualification for future employment.

As part of UALR’s reconstruction, the Office of Study Abroad Program is now under Academic Affairs and is located on the fourth floor of  the Student Services Center. The Study Abroad department holds weekly information sessions. Students can sign up at ualr.edu/programsabroad.

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