Study abroad program recognized for standards

Study abroad program recognized for standards

Caitlin Goette, News Reporter

Over the summer, the Forum of Education Abroad acknowledged Winona State University’s study abroad program for meeting the Standards of Good Practice for Education Abroad.

Susan Niedzwiecki-Pham, director of Study Abroad, said it is difficult to obtain this award.

“Very few universities have received this recognition, which reflects the high standards Winona State models regarding academics, student learning, health and safety, and overall operations within study abroad,” Niedzwiecki-Pham said.

In order to meet the standards needed to receive the award, Winona State needed to go through the Forum’s Quality Improvement Program (QUIP). The program consisted of a rigorous self-study and review representatives of the forum.

The Forum of Education Abroad is a non-profit membership association that advocates for education abroad and its values and benefits to students.

Winona State offers an expansive academic program, offering students a variety of choices when it comes to going abroad.

They offer programs in other countries like China, Greece and Spain and also programs within the United States. It also provides great diversity in duration of trips.

Students can choose to spend a just a few weeks all the way to a semester abroad. Winona State also offers short-term faculty-led programs that vary yearly such as the “Cities of Fairytales” that will take place May 14 – 30, 2020.

The program also offers a chance for Winona State students to intern abroad which allows students to gain real work experience. Interning abroad has become an increasingly popular choice for students in past years.

Winona State senior majoring in business administration, McKayla Urbick, has  been a part of two trips abroad.

“They just go above and beyond and make it just such an amazing experience for you,” Urbick said.

Urbick had an internship in Barcelona, Spain where she gained work experience within the business field, specifically within the HR department.

“It helped give me a broader outlook … learning doesn’t always necessarily mean that you’re going to be sitting in a classroom,” Urbick said.

Her experiences left such a positive impact on her that she became an alumni ambassador for Barcelona SAE, which is the company she went through.

One thing that causes students to shy away from studying abroad is cost.

What many do not know is that Winona State provides students with many affordable programs and scholarship opportunities. Financial aid can also be put toward funding studies abroad.

The study abroad program has also made the application process almost completely electronic within the last three years for both the ease and convenience of Winona State students. They are also constantly revising their health and safety policies and practices.

Niedzwiecki-Pham encourages students to go abroad for the many lessons that are learned.

“It’s impossible to choose just one,” Niedzwiecki-Pham said. “The personal growth and life skills students gain while abroad – adaptability, problem-solving skills, self-confidence, critical thinking.”