Today we’re thrilled to be highlighting one of our amazing API employees! Elizabeth Adams recently received the NAFSA Region VII International Excellence Award. We can’t think of anyone better to receive this honor. Today we’re learning more about Liz’s extensive career in international education.
How and when did you get started in international education?
Having had a French mother, I was always fascinated with the world beyond the U.S. As a first-generation college student at a public university in the Midwest, I had the opportunity to study abroad twice: once for a year as a junior, and then again for a semester during my senior year. Study abroad changed my life profoundly. Having obtained my Masters in International Administration, I worked for several years in intercultural education/training, then at NAFSA: Association of International Educators headquarters in DC. I then spent 20 years creating education abroad offices at two public universities in NC. Since 2005, I have worked with international education organizations (IEO’s).
What have been some of the biggest successes/challenges of your career?
Challenges: Study abroad was an unknown to most individuals on the public university campuses where I started offices. In order to create education abroad opportunities at that time, we needed to raise awareness of the appeal and affordability of study abroad. Students were the obvious audience, as were faculty and administrators. Both offices I created over almost 20 years, started out as one-person offices, and are now large offices, thriving and transforming the culture of the university. I continue this same work in my current role, working with all constituents on campuses as they build their international education opportunities.
Successes: having helped to transform the lives and careers of literally thousands of students over my career, who studied and lived all over the world, and made career and life choices based on their international experiences. I’m so very proud of who they’ve become, and the part study abroad had in helping them to become responsible and globally aware citizens.
What’s a defining moment in your career that you’ll never forget?
The defining moments I most treasure above all others are those in which I was able to guide and train and mentor younger professionals as they entered the field of international education. This happened not only on campuses and in my role with IEO’s, it took place over and over again during my years chairing and presenting at professional education abroad workshops, at national, regional, and state conferences. I count myself fortunate to have worked with individuals who have risen to the top of our field, and who head IEO’s, run their own consulting organizations, serve on national boards, and have picked up the torch of mentoring younger folks as the new generations come into our field.