Stetson Students Participate in Internship with AIR Guatemala

 By Camila Morales Hernandez, ’20

(l-r) Students Sydney Arrington, Peter Greubel, and Matinicus C’Senger pose with AIR Guatemala founder and President (and Stetson Professor Emeritus, ), Dr. Anne Hallum in front of AIR’s Training Center

Over the summer, the Stetson students, Sydney Arrington, a Public Health major/Spanish minor, Peter Gruebel, also a Public Health major; and Matinicus C’Senger, double major in Economics and Philosophy and an Environmental Sustainability Fellow at Stetson, did a summer internship with AIR (Alliance for International Reforestation, Inc) Guatemala. During the experience, the students were able to work closely with local farmers to learn the practice of Regenerative Farming. The students also spoke Spanish during the entire time of the experience.

WHAT IS AIR GUATEMALA?

AIR is a non-profit organization improving human and environmental health in Guatemala.  With operations in Atlanta, Georgia and central Guatemala, AIR has trained over 4,000 farm families and planted almost 6 million native trees in Guatemala.  For over 25 years, AIR has implemented a community-based, five-year approach with great results and success.  AIR is a winner of the 2017 Equator Prize from the UN Environment Programme because of this successful model.  All salaried employees are local professionals, so ninety-two percent of funds and donations go straight to the field to implement projects and programs:  Rural school programs; tree nurseries; farmer training; and efficient, custom stoves.  AIR was founded in 1992 at Stetson University after Dr. Anne Hallum, Stetson University political professor, visited Guatemala for the first time and observed first hand the rural hunger and malnutrition, the barren mountainsides and mudslides, and the strength of the Maya people.

GOALS, PROCESS AND ACADEMIC PURSUITS:

Each year, one to three Stetson students are selected to participate in the AIR Guatemala internship program. All of their program expenses are covered by a generous endowment by Drs. David and Leighan Rinker. The main goal of the internship is for the student to provide tangible benefits to the local residents.  Likewise, the experience is designed to align with the academic pursuits of the students.  

Learning goals for the student interns include:

  • Discover the value and method for farming with trees (“Regenerative farming” aka “agroforestry”) for better anthropological and environmental well-being: The students planted trees where they brought the most benefit for the communities: Acatenango, Xibalbay, Paquixic, and Montellano. 
  • Learn  the effect of working with residents instead of for them. Residents requested help constructing efficient stoves from AIR Guatemala. Students constructed 3 stoves for two days, resulting in transformational lessons since they saw the living styles of the Mayan families, the hazards of breathing smoke all day, how close the families are and how fully their connection was to surrounding nature. 
  • Shadow the president of AIR Guatemala, Dr. Hallum. During the second week, a large group of volunteers arrived from Florida and Georgia, and all three Stetson students were enormously effective in welcoming these volunteers and showing them what they had learned the first week. Dr. Hallum also had all three students accompany her on important meetings with the AIR staff.  The interns were especially helpful in an unforeseen way: Dr. Hallum was prefacing a network technology of registering via GPS the exact location where each tree was planted, and then “selling” the planted trees to a company in Hong Kong for purpose of combating climate change. The staff—and Dr. Hallum—had to learn how to use this technology and naturally, the Stetson students were very comfortable with this fascinating technology and taught the staff the functions of it. 
  • Learning about the Mayan and Ladino cultures in Guatemala. An overarching goal is that students learned about the regional cultures while planting trees and building stoves in rural communities. For instance, one day, the women of the communities brought lunch in the field where the students were planting trees —they carried tortillas and hot soup in containers on their heads. The team also participated in two school programs with Mayan dances which the class students had prepared especially for AIR visitors.

FOOTPRINT LEFT IN GUATEMALA

The three students supported the construction of three fuel-efficient stoves which involved mixing cement, soaking and laying bricks—each stove required six-hours of work. The stoves have a chimney to ventilate smoke and prevent lung diseases; they also help to conserve trees.

Sydney Arrington helps build a stove for local residents.

The volunteers this summer—including the three students—planted approximately 2,000 trees. The trees were strategically located to prevent soil erosion and improve crops with nitrogen-fixing roots; prevent mudslides, and to protect water sources. As previously mentioned, the students taught AIR staff members and Dr. Hallum how to use the technology for photographing and syncing each tree. By the end of the two weeks, the team had registered and sold 886 trees to a company in Hong Kong.

Peter Gruebel plants trees in Guatemala

 The three students also participated in two rural school programs—helping to judge environmental contests and playing with children.

THE ADVENTURE DOES NOT STOP THERE!!

Apply to join this journey and work with Guatemalan communities in Summer 2020!!!  Applications are due by February 1, 2020.

This article was written based on Dr. Anne Hallum’s annual Air Guatemala report.

A Summer with UNITAR

By Camila Morales ’20

On Friday, October 18, I had the honor of giving a presentation to Stetson’s University Board of Trustees about my previous internships and the impact they have had in my professional life. This article is about the most recent one I had this 2019 summer in the United Nations Institute for Training and Research New York Office (UNITAR NYO).

I had the honor to work under the supervision of H.E. Ambassador Marco Suazo, UNITAR-NYO head of office ambassador, and Mr. Pelayo Alvarez, programme coordinator. Both of them served as invaluable mentors during this journey. I also worked alongside with remarkable young professionals, who I am happy to call my colleagues. UNITAR is a training arm of the United Nations, whose mission is to develop capacities to enhance global decision-making and to support country-level action for shaping a better future. The organization provides training and capacity development projects to assist mainly members of the least developed countries. In my time here I gained experience in finances and multilateral diplomacy. 

TAR team: Camila Morales ’20 (far left)

UNITAR allowed me to work in tasks that enhanced my two areas of studies: finances and world languages and cultures. I was able to hone my financial skills by presenting the project and budget proposals to members of the Permanent Missions to the United Nations and other organizations. Likewise, I was able to strengthen my technical skills by administering the underground finances and by developing the finance and statistics sections of the Midterm Summary Report.

During the internship, I assisted the office by supporting the logistics and program management to meet and work alongside mission representatives such as ambassadors and diplomats. I also supported developing and leading projects that equipped members of the diplomatic community with the capacity to contribute to the United Nations deliberative process and policy-making.

The most remarkable thing about my internship was the mentorship I received from my supervisors and my colleagues.

The UNITAR-New York Office team would always promote collaboration and professionalism. We were incentivized to take part in learning more about the United Nations and its projects. For example, I had the opportunity to attend the elections of the 74th President of the General Assembly, and the meetings of the Security Council. The UNITAR-New York Office also allowed interns to take part in the organization and the implementation of the UNITAR Economic and Social Council resolution.

We were invited to attend bilateral meetings among high officials of the United Nations. Additionally, we had the opportunity to manage and develop capacity building events which were co-organized by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Division for Sustainable Development Goals and UNITAR for the SDGs Learning, Training and Practice Center during the High-Level Political Forum.

Camila Morales ’20 in a bilateral meeting of the United Nations (4th from right)

The professional background I acquired in UNITAR was exceptional, but the unique opportunity to be directly exposed to the United Nations system I experienced in UNITAR was invaluable. This is a chapter in my life I will forever treasure.

Camila Morales,’20, is a security analyst in the Roland George Investments Program at Stetson University. Morales, a senior finance major, works at WORLD: Rinker Center for International Learning.

UNITAR supports governments to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

This article originally printed in LinkedIn and published at Stetson Today.

International Day of Peace –Join us today

Join WORLD and the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life to celebrate the United Nations International Day of Peace.

Join us today, Sept. 18 from 11:30 a.m.-12:50 p.m., in the Conrad Hall Lounge for conversations over lunch on the following topics:

  • Personal peace with Sensei Morris Sullivan, University Chaplain
  • Interpersonal peace with Dr. Leila Roach, Department of Counselor Education
  • Environmental peace with Nate Bodger ’19

Moe’s and Cultural Credit will be provided.

PEACE DAY 2019 THEME: CLIMATE ACTION FOR PEACE

The theme draws attention to the importance of combatting climate change as a way to protect and promote peace throughout the world.

Each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on September 21. The General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.

WORLD Students Participate in Global Leadership Summit

by Gabby Cassidy

Over Spring Break 2019, WORLD ambassadors Zoe Weaver and Caylyn Gunby attended the Global Student Leadership Summit in Boston, MA.

This conference, for students who had participated in study abroad and other international programs, had a goal to help them develop skills as successful global leaders. It also focused on students from diverse and underrepresented populations, such as first-generation, racial/ethnic minority, students with disabilities, high financial need, LGBTQ+, etc. Many face obstacles acquiring educational and leadership opportunities.

Throughout the conference, Weaver found herself learning more than she expected from the sessions. She was pushed to see the bigger picture of education abroad.

“I was pushed to see my study abroad as a time that I developed personally and was finally able to articulate the challenges of my trip to those who would understand. Then, after listening to others tell their own stories, I realized that we each had a unique experience that created the larger picture of diversity abroad.”

The connections she made with other students helped her to understand her own experiences and the education she received while studying in South Korea and Taiwan. Weaver also learned about the importance of diversity in study abroad and was inspired to do more here at Stetson. She expressed her desire to connect with the Black Student Association, the Asia Pacific American Coalition, the Caribbean Student Association, and other multicultural organizations to develop more initiatives to get their members involved in study abroad programs.

“Although being a woman brings its own challenges to international travel, I further developed an understanding of my privilege during this conference as an able-bodied, white, American student. Through this understanding, I began to build a standard for myself when it comes to becoming an ally both abroad and domestically to students who lack the opportunity to do the same as I.”

Gunby felt that the conference was a great professional opportunity for her. The panels and speakers had a profound impact and helped her feel confident in her plans post-graduation. The chance to connect with graduate schools and professionals, as well as other students in her same positions, helped her to reflect on her identity and improve her confidence in speaking about her experiences.

“Being able to speak with professionals who are now in International Education, who taught English abroad through JET, Fulbright, and TAPIF made me feel like I was taking the right steps towards a career in International Education or International Affairs.”

Gunby would like to bring more networking opportunities to Stetson’s campus for international careers. Events such as the Global Citizenship Fair and Acerima could benefit from having a keynote speaker or speakers from minority groups.

“The keynote speakers at the conference were inspiring and helped all of the students get involved and excited about the activities.”

Overall, her experiences at the Global Leadership Summit helped her to grow professionally as well as to have more confidence in her abilities and plans for the future.

Enrollment in Scottish Experience up 37%

Student enrollment peaked during the fourth annual study abroad Scottish Experience, a collaborative of the University of the Highlands Islands Inverness College, Stetson University, Utah Valley University, and Jacksonville University. A total of 33 students participated in courses taughted by faculty from UVU, Jacksonville, and Stetson.

A centerpiece of the study abroad program is an embedded case study component where groups of students act as consultants to Scottish businesses and organizations to address an issue of pressing need.

Students and faculty take a quick break after presenting the outcomes of their case studies to business and organizational leaders.

Highland Adventures

Inverness, Scotland

As Robert Burns, regarded as the national poet of Scotland, so eloquently wrote: “Wherever I wander, wherever I rove, the hills of the Highlands forever I love.”


Ample camaraderie is evident among students and faculty during Stetson’s Summer Scotland, with the Urquhart Castle in the background. Students who participate in the summer program earn four credits upon completion.

The endearing qualities of Scotland have inspired many a writer and poet over the years. Travelers from every corner of the globe also have been enchanted by Scotland’s beauty, typically describing it as “mystical” and “awe-inspiring.” 

For Stetson students, a study-abroad program, now going into its fourth year, is providing them with the opportunity to experience that splendor firsthand in Inverness, a city in the Scottish Highlands and the northernmost city of the United Kingdom. 

“I had never traveled outside the country before, so it was suggested that Scotland would be a good first study-abroad experience. It was a life-changing experience, and I caught the travel bug after that,” said Caylyn Gunby ’19, a double-major in international studies and world languages and cultures whoparticipated in the program in the summer of 2016. Gunby added she since has participated in two additional study-abroad programs in Austria and Thailand, plus an internship in France.

Such a trip has that kind of impact. 

Summer Scotland is centered at The University of the Highlands and Islands – Inverness College

The Inverness program, called Summer Scotland, is a multi-university, faculty-led consortium including professors from Stetson, Jacksonville University and Utah Valley University, all congregating at The University of the Highlands and Islands – Inverness College to teach students management and marketing as they relate to the international community. With approximately 8,500 students, Inverness College is the main campus for The University of the Highlands and Islands. 

The program occurs three or four weeks over summers. Summer Scotland 2019 is set for May 28-June 27. 

“Five years ago, we got together with Jacksonville University and suggested Scotland as a great place for a study-abroad program,” cited Paula Hentz, director of international learning at WORLD: The David and Leighan Rinker Center for International Learning at Stetson. “We wanted to build something that included best practices and incorporated case-study projects with local Scottish businesses. Utah Valley University and Inverness College joined the consortium, and it has turned out to be really beneficial for students.” 

As part of case-study projects, students work with local companies on real-world business issues. 

As part of these case-study projects, students are paired with local businesses (five students per company) and work on real-world business issues. They apply their coursework and offer solutions to actual problems to help the businesses, presenting a final report at the end of the project. 

Group projects vary based on the current business needs. In the past, companies have included WOW! Scotland (a travel company); a fashion designer who has designed items for the Queen; Robertson Construction; Walker (an international shortbread company); local craft breweries; a Highland bakery that provided baked goods for the 2012 London Olympics; local social enterprises that support youth; and Cobb (a hotel company). 

“This represents an incredible opportunity for students to not only get real-world experience but also real-world international business experience — learning how to do business in another country with another culture. It’s a great challenge for them,” Hentz added. 

In 2016, Gunby and her team worked with Café Artysans, a social-enterprise café in Inverness that uses some of its profits to help homeless Scottish youth. 

“We helped with advertising, met with the director and talked about growth and international outreach,” Gundy said. “We focused on social-media coverage and how to better reach out to Americans.” 

Carol Azab, Ph.D., assistant professor of marketing in the School of Business Administration, teaches, lectures and represents Stetson on the program.

Students who participate in the program are offered a choice between two courses — Global Marketing: Business Without Borders and Principles of Management — and earn four credits upon completion. The course counts as an elective for nonbusiness students. 

“These study-abroad programs teach students about international business and how countries operate and do business differently because of cultural nuances,” said Carol Azab, Ph.D., assistant professor of marketing in the School of Business Administration, who teaches, lectures and represents Stetson on the trips. “In Scotland, people are more laid-back than we are when it comes to their business culture. And it’s important for students to be able to adapt to whatever company they’re working for, wherever that may be. 

“When I see students presenting at the end of the program, I feel so proud. Their marketing proposals and plans get praise from these companies, and they’ve resulted in direct changes and improvements made in many of the businesses. It’s a life-changing experience for these students, who come back more enlightened and also improve academically.” 

Students start some coursework online prior to their arrival in Inverness. Once there, they have regular class time, Monday through Friday, and also interact with advisers to work on their case studies. Additionally, they hear local guest lecturers talk about topics such as the effects of Brexit (the U.K. leaving the European Union), the general business environment and business practices in Scotland. Students have the option to stay in the dormitories at Inverness College or with a Scottish host family. 

Further, there is cultural immersion. Among the highlights is a guided tour of the Isle of Skye, the largest and most northerly large island in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. 

“It was stunning,” Gunby recalled. “We actually went to Fairy Pools [on the River Brittle in the Isle of Skye].” 

As part of their study (and adventure), students investigate the legend of Loch Ness, the deepest lake in the United Kingdom. 

Other excursions include visits to Loch Ness, the deepest lake in the United Kingdom and where students can take a boat tour and hear stories about the Loch Ness Monster; Urquhart Castle, one of Scotland’s most iconic castles on the banks of Loch Ness; the Quiraing, a landslip on the eastern face of Meall na Suiramach, the northernmost summit of the Trotternish on the Isle of Skye; and Edinburgh, the ancient capital city of Scotland. 

Also, this past summer students participated in mini-Highland Games, so they could try some of the activities. Previously, they had watched the actual Highland Games. “We learned about Scottish food, music, sports, folklore and even got to hear Gaelic from the local Highlanders,” noted Gunby. 

“We want students to step out of their comfort zones,” Azab said, simply. 

“It’s a chance to build intentional opportunities for students to meet local people,” Hentz affirmed. “Everything we do there is geared toward giving our students the most immersive cultural experience possible.” 

For Gunby, who missed not having black pudding and sausage when she got back to the States, her Scotland experience opened many doors and widened her eyes. And she will never forget the Scottish people, while she also became close with other Stetson students who participated in the program. 

“They’re so friendly and much more laid-back then we are,” she said about the Scottish. “People understand how to enjoy life there, and that taught me something about how to live my life.” 

When Gunby graduates this spring, she plans on teaching English abroad, as a gap year, then attending grad school to get a master’s degree in international affairs or global development.

The study-abroad effect is transformative. 

“I believe in student learning and stepping out into the world as a life-changing experience,” Azab concluded. “Helping students realize this is very rewarding to me. In the end, we’re celebrating differences, and this is a beautiful thing and a great lesson for these students to learn.” 

-Jack Roth

Online at Stetson Today March 27, 2019

Stetson’s Portuguese Instructor at Yale University: the Building and Sharing of a Legacy

By Fernanda Ribeiro, Fulbright Brazilian Language Scholar

I have never taught my mother tongue to non-native speakers of Portuguese before. When I arrived at Stetson University as a Fulbright scholar last year, on the 8th of August, I was given the mission of continuing the wonderful work left by Raquel Santos (2015-2016), Ana Paula Spalenza Pereira (2016-2017) and Greici Buzzi (2017-2018) each in turn,  a Teacher Scholar in Stetson’s Portuguese program. Then I thought: What can I do to leave my legacy on campus in nine months and contribute to the recognition and importance of one having a Portuguese language program at Stetson after my going back to Brazil?

Fernanda Rebeiro, Stetson FLTA 2018-2019

“Will I be able to meet Fulbright’s goals and truly represent my country as a cultural ambassador? It was quite a challenge, I must confess.”

On my first day as a Portuguese instructor, I had 8 students from the most diverse linguistic backgrounds: Spanish speakers, heritage speakers of Portuguese, polyglots, monolinguals. In spite of the differences, all of them had chosen to learn Portuguese, among the myriad of languages that the Department of World Languages and Cultures offer every semester, and, as a native speaker of Portuguese and a graduated teacher with years of experience, I had to give them my best, and the best of my country and my language.

Fernanda Rebiero presenting her work at stetson to other Fulbright Scholars at Yale University, Connecticut in spring 2019

With a lot of guaraná, brigadeiros, cheese breads (of course!), memes and music, the classes have been fun, dynamic and full of learning. My students have become my friends and I have learned a lot from and with them too – and that is one of the priceless opportunities we have as teachers. Outside the classroom hours, I have organized tablings, Brazilian clubs, cultural credit events and tertulias, everything under the fantastic supervision of the wonderful Dr. Pamela Cappas-Toro, who has always given me a free hand to do my best here, allowing me to be truly and entirely myself.

And the days have passed, so has the semester. I have been in DeLand for 7 months now and it is already my second and last semester as a Portuguese instructor here at Stetson. During a talk with Dr. Cappas-Toro, she told me that I am the last Fulbright scholar of Portuguese and that, in the Fall semester of 2019, there will be a full-time professor, whose commitment with the Department of World Languages and Cultures includes making the Portuguese program even stronger through the offer of higher level Portuguese courses – currently Stetson offers 101 and 102 levels only. What does it mean? It means that all the work of the four Brazilian Fulbrighers had not been in vain. It is quite the contrary: the four of us have planted seeds which have been constantly watered and which have now bloomed into beautiful flowers.

Fernanda Ribiero visits Yale University to present on her work as a Fulbright Language Teaching Assistant at Stetson during the 2018-2019 academic year.

With such accomplishments in mind, and full of joy, I traveled to Connecticut last month and talked about the teaching of Portuguese at Stetson University at a conference at Yale University. There, I encountered the other Brazilian Portuguese instructors that came to the US with me and it was such a great experience. When I was presenting my speech, I was really moved because I could share my experience not only as a language instructor but also as a representative of Brazil, and as a cultural ambassador, I could say, and reinforce without any doubt the impact the Fulbright scholars have in a community and in the world. Raquel’s, Ana Paula’s and Greci’s work was also mentioned at Yale, after all we are a team!

These months here have been a daily learning. I am sure that I am not the same Fernanda anymore. With expanded horizons, a renewed cultural and linguistic baggage of knowledge and the most important thing – my legacy left at Stetson – , I will go back to my home country with the feeling of having fulfilled my duty. My future and my perspectives will be forever changed because my home will always have a little of this country and the wonderful family I have built here. After all, we are the result of the books we read, the places we visit, the languages we speak and teach and the people we get to meet – a  change for the better.

Fernanda Ribeiro joins Stetson University from Brazil to teach Portuguese as a Fulbright Language Teaching Assistant. She is a first-generation college student who graduated from Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro in 2015, earning a licentiate degree in Portuguese, English and their respective literatures. Ms. Ribeiro earned a Master’s degree in linguistics from Federal University of Rio de Janeiro this past February. For more on Ms. Ribero, click here.

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