Sprouting Growth


Through the Alliance for International Reforestation Inc. and Stetson, students are planting seeds for learning in Central America.

Since the year 2000, the Alliance for International Reforestation Inc. (AIR) has enjoyed a strong partnership with David and Leighan Rinker, longtime ardent Stetson benefactors, in offering transformational service experiences for Stetson students in Central America.

The partnership actually began when in 1999 David Rinker offered to support student trips with Anne Hallum, Ph.D., a Stetson political science professor and founder of AIR, through the Marshall E. Rinker Sr. Foundation. David Rinker had learned of Hallum’s early experiences working in Guatemala — training farmers in sustainable agriculture and other services — and he wanted students to benefit as well.

Through the years, both literally and figuratively, it’s been quite a journey.

Today, selected students — based on grades, a reflective essay and an interview — participate in three primary programs, along with academic assignments, over a period of four to six weeks. The word participate is used loosely.

Students build stoves with Mayan families and the AIR staff; they are actively engage at rural schools; they plant fast-growing trees on deforested slopes; and they maintain a journal of reflections on friendships made and lessons learned.


Camaraderie with locals is part of the AIR experience for students.

Over the years, for example, more than 100 stoves have been constructed — involving cement mixing and brick laying — to help prevent lung disease and conserve precious trees. Meanwhile, more than 45,000 fast-growing trees have been planted —up to 4,000 trees each month by hand on mountains — to improve crops and prevent mudslides.

The trips, clearly, aren’t vacations, except for the Saturday “tourist days.”

Last summer, in addition to building and planting, a student with a special interest in marketing shadowed Hallum to learn the nuances of fundraising and donor relations.

The travel expenses for each of those students, as well as for Hallum, are covered by the Marshall E. Rinker Sr. grant (with some funds from Latin American Studies when more students traveled). Those annual grants total approximately $9,000 each June, which cover hotels, food, ground transportation, small stipends and continual supervision by the AIR staff members.

For the students, the payoffs have been significant.

A first-year student was taught the “sheer joy” of an exhausting day of service (especially outdoors). An impressionable 19-year-old who spent six weeks with AIR in Guatemala now is an accomplished alumnus. More generally, AIR has impacted how student view the world.


Thanks to charitable funding and Anne Hallum, Ph.D., a former political science professor at Stetson, students continue to participate in uncommon immersion abroad.

Until June 2012, Hallum taught full-time at Stetson and managed AIR’s early growth in Nicaragua and Guatemala. She was able to combine the service work in rural Guatemala and Nicaragua with her own academic research, and to find ways for students to earn academic credits in independent studies such as immersion Spanish, environmental activism, Latin American studies: Mayan Culture, and religion and the environment.

Hallum left Stetson in 2012, moving to Atlanta to work full-time (non-salaried) as president of AIR-Guatemala. Yet, even today, by virtue of her personal ties to the university and the Rinker support, she continues to exclusively host Stetson students for lengthy immersion experiences.
Not coincidentally, in 2017 AIR Guatemala received its second recognition from the United Nations, as a winner of the 2017 Equator Prize, presented by the United Nations Development Programme.

As a result, a reforestation organization founded on the third floor of Elizabeth Hall at Stetson more than 25 years ago now is globally acclaimed. Even greater, it continues to provide uncommon experiences of growth for Stetson students.

-Michael Candelaria

Originally posted at Stetson Today on February 25, 2019

Board of Trustees Presentation: International Learning

by Camilla Morales, ‘20

Part of Stetson’s University mission is to promote Global Citizenship by students in order to prepare informed, active, and engaged citizens. On February 14, 2019, I was given the opportunity along with my colleagues, Zoe Weaver, ‘19 and Genicelle Barrington, ‘21, to present our efforts as WORLD Ambassadors to the Academic Affairs Committee of Stetson’s Board of Trustees and along with other faculty and staff members.


The session was opened by Dr. Rosalie A. Richards, associate provost for Faculty Development and professor of chemistry and education, who provided an overview of international learning at Stetson. Board members were then invited to participate in an interactive session, where they visited stations to learn about different aspects of international learning.

There were five different stations: WORLD: The David and Leighan Rinker Center of International Learning at the Deland campus, the Office of International and Graduate Programs at the College of Law in Gulfport, the International Learning Committee, the Latin American & Latino Studies Program, and Student Engagement.

Dejan Magoc, Ph.D. , associate professor of health sciences and chair of the International Learning Committee, describes how Stetson University uses the ACE Comprehensive  Internationalization model to advance global competencies.

Paula Hentz, M.Ed, director of international learning (right), showcases several new WORLD initiatives.

JR Swanegan, J.D., assistant dean of international and graduate studies (left), highlights different consortia developed by the College of Law to advance international learning to Board members including David Rinker, Ph.D., longstanding Trustee and benefactor of WORLD (back).

Robert Sitler, Ph.D., professor of world languages and cultures (Spanish) and program coordinator for the Latin American & Latino Studies Program, provides an overview of the program and highlights from the Mentored Field Experience. 

My colleagues and I presented at the Student Engagement station and spoke about our roles as WORLD Ambassadors and about our engagement in building global citizenship via international learning. We spoke about several events that we host to promote community engagement, diversity, inclusion and cultural awareness.

Morales (left) and Barrington (left, white shirt) listen as Weaver (center) discusses study abroad with Board members and senior academic leaders.

The interactive session was followed by a panel discussion where members of the Board were able to ask questions to the presenters.

I must say I was very honored to have been asked by my boss, Paula Hentz, director of international learning, to be part of this event along with my colleagues. To be able to talk about a subject I am so passionate about was a great and unique experience. I am eager to see what efforts will be done to keep promoting internationalization at Stetson University.

Adapted from the original story posted on LinkedIn on February 19, 2019

2 Stetson Faculty Receive International Recognition

Two Stetson University School of Business Administration professors have been recognized by two separate international organizations for outstanding achievements.


Isabel Botero

Isabel Botero, Ph.D., assistant professor of family enterprise and entrepreneurship, was awarded the Advanced Certificate in Family Wealth Advising (ACFWA) and honored as a Fellow of the Family Firm Institute (FFI) at the 2018 FFI Global Conference held in London, England.

To be named a fellow honoree, Botero had to achieve comprehensive professional knowledge and significant expertise over the past 10 years that may now be shared and used by family business owners and family wealth management clients. The Family Firm Institute, an international professional membership organization of more than 1,800 individuals and organizations across 88 countries, provides interdisciplinary education and networking opportunities for family business and family wealth advisors, consultants, educators and researchers.

“Becoming a Fellow for the Family Firm Institute is an honor for me because it highlights my collaborative work to help family enterprises around the world become better,” explained Botero. “It also acknowledges the importance of education and research in the field.”


Jennifer Foo

Jennifer Foo, Ph.D., professor of finance, also has been honored as a member of the Jewish National Fund’s Winter 2018-2019 Faculty Fellowship Program in Israel. This competitive academic fellowship gives full-time higher education faculty members the opportunity to participate in a 12-day all-expenses-paid academic trip to Israel. The program strives to link scholars from diverse disciplines with their Israeli counterparts at major universities to initiate collaboration and exchanges, and to give participants an opportunity to explore Israel’s history, politics, culture and economy. Foo is the first Stetson University faculty member to receive this fellowship.

“This fellowship is an invaluable and exciting opportunity for me to learn about Israel,” said Foo. “I look forward to learning how an entrepreneurial and innovative business spirit can be born out of a necessity to grow and survive, as it did in Israel.”


Neal Mero

“This recognition of Dr. Botero and Dr. Foo highlights the quality of faculty who serve in the Stetson School of Business Administration,” said Neal P. Mero, Ph.D., dean and professor of management. “In addition to bringing global recognition to Stetson for their work, my colleagues leverage that expertise through their service as incredible teachers and scholars delivering a world-class education to our students.”

Originally posted at Stetson Today on December 9, 2018 by Marie Dinklage

Ceramic Brahman bull wins Best of Show at Student Art Exhibit


“Rage” by Alaska Gilmour

Artist Alaska Gilmour let friend Natalie Greenshields name her entry in Stetson’s 29th Annual Undergraduate Juried Exhibition “because I honestly didn’t think it would win anything,” Gilmour said of her quasi-anthropomorphic ceramic bust of a Brahman bull. Gilmour’s ceramic, named “Rage,” won the Ann West Hall Best of Show Award.

The exhibition runs through Dec. 7 at the Hand Art Center on Stetson’s DeLand campus. Sixty-two student artists submitted 129 works to be considered for the show.

Stetson art faculty chose 77 pieces from 36 artists to be exhibited. Gisela Carbonell, Ph.D., curator of the Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College and exhibition judge, chose the winners of six awards. Stetson students voted on the Student Choice Award.

All Stetson students regardless of major were eligible to participate in the exhibition. This year’s show includes works by 16 non-art majors.

Gilmour, a junior with a double major in psychology and studio, currently is in Thailand as part of an exchange program.


Alaska Gilmour
Photo/Stuart Gilmour

By email, she said she “just thought it would be cool” if Greenshields titled the ceramic “because she went to the effort of entering it for me on my behalf. When Nat told me what she had called it, I burst out laughing. I told her it definitely wouldn’t win anything now with a name like that, but I guess I was wrong.”

A fifth-generation native of Zimbabwe, Gilmour noted her family, who still lives there, breeds Brahman bulls. “I’ve grown up around these floppy-eared cows my whole life, so I guess that was my inspiration for the piece,” she said.

Gilmour said there “are not a lot of higher education options in Zimbabwe” and she chose Stetson because of Florida’s warm climate “and I liked how small Stetson is and how much history it has.”

Her main mediums are oils and ceramics, but she had never worked in the latter until she took a class under Professor Dan Gunderson in her first year.

“I had to beg them to let me into the class because it was already full, and I took the class without much intention of pursuing ceramics,” Gilmour said. “But I fell in love with the medium and loved working with Dan.”

Gilmour is uncertain which of her degrees she will pursue as a career path.

“I get bored easily so I’m sure I’ll chop and change careers,” she said. “It’s good I have two very different degrees to follow. I’ll definitely carry on making art throughout my life – I’m just not sure if it will be professionally or just as a hobby. Life is too fleeting to have a set plan, things change all the time and therefore so will I.”

If you Go:
The 29th Annual Undergraduate Juried Exhibition runs through Dec. 7 at the Hand Art Center on Stetson’s Palm Court/Quad, 139 E. Michigan Ave., DeLand. Admission is free and open to the public. Designated parking is available in the lots at East Arizona Avenue.

Center hours are 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and Friday; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursday and noon-4 p.m. Saturday. Closed on national holidays, holiday weekends and fall, Thanksgiving and winter breaks. Information: 386-822-7270.

Story is an adapted excerpt from an article originally posted on November 28, 2018  at Stetson Today

Classroom Cuenca

Cuenca, Ecuador

Cuenca, the capital of the Azuay province and third largest city in Ecuador, is the economic center of the southern Sierra. With its 8,000-foot elevation, cobblestone streets, cathedrals and colonial parks, Cuenca is perhaps the country’s most charming city. And, not coincidentally, Cuenca recently has enjoyed resurgence as a safe, low-cost and generally pleasant locale for expatriates to rediscover and for retirees to live.

At Stetson, Cuenca also represents an opportunity for students to travel abroad, using this natural wonderland, believed to have been founded around 500 A.D., as their own classroom.

The next lessons are scheduled for June 1-30, 2019, when up to 10 students will gain a “total immersion experience,” according to Bill Nylen, Ph.D., professor of political science, who will serve as faculty mentor.

“That part of the world is absolutely fascinating,” Nylen said. “I live for cultural immersion. … I’m really excited about this trip for all kinds of reasons.”

Among the planned sites to visit with the students are churches, parks and museums, along with indigenous communities and the picturesque countryside, where all four of southern Ecuador’s distinct cultures (Hispanic, Cañari, Saraguro and Cholo) will be on full display.

Students on last summer’s Cuenca study abroad (L-R): Merida Mikell, Jessica Chamberlin, Emma Logue, Noah Katz and Abby Ault

For students, also included in the trip is a mandatory Spanish class plus optional instruction, with the study falling under a four-credit course. Each student will be hosted by a family. The cost, excluding airfare, is roughly $3,000 (including meals and room/board).

The response from students who traveled to Cuenca last summer?

Noah Katz, a senior history major, went on and on about his experience, which even entailed attending a church mass with his host family (all in Spanish) and a wedding — both “unofficial” adventures. He concluded that the trip “exceeded expectations” before exclaiming, “I had a wonderful time!” For good measure, Katz added that he remains in touch with his host family.

Beyond Cuenca

On the upcoming trip, Nylen will replace Bob Sitler, Ph.D., Latin American and Latino Studies Program director and professor of world languages and cultures. One of the reasons is that Sitler is planning 12 days in Yucatan, Mexico, Dec. 28-Jan. 8, with four students.

There, subjects will range from seven ancient ruins and eight natural landscapes to nine Mayan villages. In preparation, this fall the four students are taking a classroom course — mostly taught at Sitler’s home — then returning for a post-trip spring course that will encompass project and presentation work.

“This is about seeing, feeling, smelling. And most students respond very well to that,” Sitler commented.

Their study abroad is part of a concerted effort by faculty, as well as a curriculum requirement, through Stetson’s Latin American and Latino Studies, a multidisciplinary and experientially oriented program that encompasses social, cultural, political and economic systems of regions. Students, who receive a minor, must complete at least one experientially oriented credit-bearing course as part of their academic requirements. This may include a Mentored Field Experience, study abroad in Latin America and/or approved internships.

In the past, students have studied in Guatemala, Peru, Mexico, Belize, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Ecuador and Puerto Rico.

And, with Spanish being the most studied language on campus, the program is especially popular across a campus that clearly is bullish on study abroad. In all, 24 study abroad trips, the most ever at Stetson, have been proposed for 2018-2019, according to Wendy Viggiano, program coordinator of International Learning.

Notably, the Mentored Field Experience is a program sponsored by the Latin American and Latino Studies department that began in 1995, fully funded by alumnus Mark Hollis ’56, a university former trustee. The program covers the expenses of up to four students each summer on professor-led trips to South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean. Before visiting a country, the students must spend the spring semester in the classroom, preparing for the trip by learning the history, politics and culture of the nation, as well as submitting a research proposal. During the trip, the students collect data for those projects, culminating with a fall-semester, post-travel evaluation course and presentation of their research at Stetson.

Essentially, students travel the world and learn by doing, one real lesson at a time.

Said Sitler: “This is the opposite of staying in an envelope.”

-Published at Stetson Today on November 26, 2018 by Michael Candelaria

How Study Abroad contributes to Career Readiness: 8 Studies

International experience used to be a “nice-to-have” criterion in a graduate’s resume. Today, it has become one of the most important components of a 21st century education. Many new studies show a direct impact of study abroad on creativity, cognitive ability, and student success. In addition, studies show that study abroad plays an important role in developing a global mindset and skills necessary to succeed in the workforce. Below are studies showing the value employers place on international experience and whether a graduate’s career prospects actually improve as a result of this experience.

Career Success

The Erasmus Impact Study: Effects of Mobility on the Skills and Employability of Students and the Internationalisation of Higher Education Institutions
This independent study prepared for the European Commission finds that internationally mobile students have better chances of finding a job after graduation. Their unemployment rate five years after graduation is lower than non-mobile students. Results show that around 65 percent of employers consider international experience important for recruitment, and over 90 percent are looking for transversal skills enhanced by study abroad, such as openness and curiosity about new challenges, problem-solving, and decision-making skills.

Gone International: Mobile Students and Their Outcomes; Report on the 2012/13 Graduating Cohort
This UK Higher Education International Unit report finds that graduates who had studied, worked, or volunteered abroad were more likely to be employed within six months of graduation. The data also shows a significantly lower proportion of graduates from disadvantaged backgrounds who were mobile were unemployed compared with those from the same backgrounds who were not mobile. Graduates with international study experience earned more, on average, than other graduates.

Recent Graduates Survey: The Impact of Studying Abroad on Recent College Graduates’ Careers
The IES Abroad Recent Graduate Study shows that study abroad alumni find jobs sooner after graduation, related to their majors, and at a higher starting salary. Study abroad students also have better graduate and professional school acceptance rates. Ninety-seven percent of alumni secured a job within one year after graduation, compared to 49 percent in the general college graduate population.

Career Readiness

Expanding Opportunity by Opening Your Mind: Multicultural Engagement Predicts Job Offers Through Longitudinal Increases in Integrative Complexity. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 5(5), 608-615
This study by Maddux et al. shows that the extent to which students adapted to and learned about new cultures (multicultural engagement) during a highly international 10-month master of business administration program predicted the number of job offers students received after the program, even when controlling for important personality and demographic variables.

GLOSSARI – Georgia Learning Outcomes of Students Studying Abroad Research
An assessment by the University System of Georgia found that students who studied abroad had a 17.8-percent higher 4-year graduation rate than those who did not study abroad, particularly among underrepresented minority and low income students.

Employer Perspective

The Outcomes of Outbound Student Mobility
This summary of academic literature over a 50-year period by AIM Overseas shows that over 60 percent of employers agree that an overseas study experience is a positive on a résumé. Additionally, 72 percent of employers agree that knowing a second language adds to the appeal of a prospective employee.

How Employers Value an International Study Experience
Based on responses from 10,000 recruiters worldwide, this QS Global Employer Report found that employers are looking for the skills and experience gained through the overseas study experience when hiring graduates.

Faktaa – Facts and Figures: Hidden Competencies
Prior studies mention that employers value international experience. This study by CIMO and Demos Helsinki concludes that employers recognize only those skills that are traditionally linked to international experience like tolerance, language skills and cultural knowledge. A substantial number of skills that are also linked to mobility were not visible to employers. The study concludes that young people need more guidance in making competencies such as productivity, resilience and curiosity gained from their international experiences more visible.

Posted at IIE.org.

This post was originally published in the fall 2015 edition of IIENetworker magazine, “The Impact of International Education.” This issue analyzes distinct aims of international education and discusses ways to improve how we measure its success.

Stetson celebrates International Education Week during November 5-9

WORLD: Rinker Center for International Learning joins thousands of universities, colleges and organizations to recognize international learning and global mindset. During November 5-9, 2018, Stetson will celebrate its global footprint with a week of cultural activities, research showcases, sporting events, and more.

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11/12/2018
11/16/2018
America/New_York
Stetson University celebrates International Education Week with a showcase of cultural activities, research highlights, sporting events, and more.
International Education Week
various locations.

International Education Week is November 12-16, 2018. IEW is a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of Education “to promote programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences”.