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K-State Today

May 1, 2024

Education Abroad office wins university award for enhancing diversity

Submitted by Division of Communications and Marketing

Kansas State University's Education Abroad office is the recipient of the 2024 University Outstanding Department or Unit Award for Enhancing Diversity.

The award, established in 2003, recognizes exceptional efforts undertaken by a unit or department to enhance diversity at K-State. It includes a plaque and a financial award of $2,500.

The Education Abroad office provides effective administrative oversight for all education abroad opportunities, guides and prepares students for meaningful international experiences, collaborates with the campus community to develop quality education abroad programs, strives to provide equitable access to education abroad and maintains and enhances strategic partnerships.

"The Education Abroad office has intentionally and purposely focused on reducing gaps in Education Abroad participation over the past few years," said Grant Chapman, associate provost for international programs. "Office leadership, staff, advisors and peer advisors want to ensure that underrepresented students have access to diverse, dynamic programs for all."

The office has focused on collaborating with other K-State offices and units to support opportunities for meaningful education abroad experiences for all K-State students, including collaborations with the First-generation Student Center, the Student Access Center, Diversity and Multicultural Student Affairs, and the Office of Scholar Development and Undergraduate Research.

Outcomes of these collaborations include spring break education abroad trips specifically for first-generation students and faculty mentors, more support for students with mobility and accessibility needs during education abroad experiences, information sessions and panel discussions with K-State alumni about how students' identities can shape their experiences abroad, and increased K-State applications for the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship thanks to an awareness and education campaign that included scholarship application writing workshops.

"The Education Abroad office has been a leader in bringing knowledgeable people together to solve issues and provide accessible experiences to those who need them," said Jason Maseberg-Tomlinson, director of K-State's Student Access Center. "It has been amazing to see what is possible when a group of people are committed to student engagement on our campus."

For many years, the Education Abroad office has provided $5,000 scholarships to K-State students participating in semester-long programs, allowing students with high financial need to find an education abroad program that fits their budget. The office has also started implementing a housing questionnaire where students can express their gender identities and share their comfort level with various types of housing assignments, which allows the office to consider students' ideal lodging preferences and take steps to reduce student stress related to housing or roommate challenges.

The office has also made a concerted effort to increase representation of diverse faculty and staff who teach and lead students during K-State faculty-led programs.

"I am proud of this office and what we have done to ensure education abroad is accessible to all students," said Katelin Christianer-Donkers, director of the Education Abroad office. "The staff goes above and beyond to increase diversity in education abroad, from building programs specific to underrepresented populations to creating supportive practices with inclusive advising and more. Diversity is at the forefront of everything we do in the office, and we appreciate the recognition from the university for these efforts."