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Semester in Australia prompts UA student to be study abroad ambassador


Photo courtesy of Kelsey Herron

A UA student was recently selected to represent the university as an “alumni ambassador” for a prominent study abroad organization.

GlobaLinks Learning Abroad named public health senior Kelsey Herron an ambassador after she completed a semester-long program in Australia in the spring.

“[Studying abroad] was amazing,” Herron said. “It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It teaches you a lot more than what you would learn just studying four years in college here.”

Held in Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, the program allowed Herron to expand on the educational foundation she built at the UA while opening her eyes to diverse perspectives that could only be found in a new place, she said.

“It was really interesting to see their views on public health issues in Australia and how they deal with those problems,” Herron said.

On a field trip, Herron speaker public health administrators who worked for the Gold Coast City Council. She said it was fascinating to learn about their views on issues ranging from environmental health to obesity.

In addition to its nationalized healthcare system, Australia’s climate presented a stark contrast to what the Colorado native said she was used to.

“It was really cool living by the beach and being able go every day after class,” Herron said, adding that the snowboarding skills she acquired growing up in Colorado translated well to surfing.

Herron said traveling to Australia and studying abroad had always been dreams of hers so when she saw that GlobaLinks offered a semester abroad program at Griffith University in Gold Coast, she jumped at the opportunity.

“I knew I wanted to experience a different culture … and see something different than I was used to,” she said, adding that the Griffith University program having classes in her major also influenced her decision to sign up for the Australian passage.

GlobaLinks offers a variety of study abroad programs that provide college students with an “individualized experience through discovery in five key areas: personal, academic, cultural, social and professional,” according to its website.

The Alumni Ambassador program allows students who have completed a study abroad program to spread the word about GlobaLinks’ services by engaging students at their respective campuses. In return, the ambassadors receive airfare and lodging for training sessions in Denver, as well as professional development and resume-building experience, said Casey Wopat, assistant director of student engagement for GlobaLinks.

“It’s a really cool opportunity,” Wopat said. “The program is really meant to let them use our resources to talk about their own experience.”

After arriving back in the United States, Herron filled out an application for the ambassador program. Out of 80 applicants, 28 were accepted.

“She is incredibly outgoing and friendly,” Wopat said, “and really passionate about her own experience studying abroad, and really wants to share that opportunity with others so that they can have a similar experience.”

Herron said GlobaLinks “took care” of her, and that volunteering as an alumni ambassador is her way of giving back to the organization. The leadership skills she will take away from the experience will be an added bonus, she said.

One of Herron’s duties as an ambassador is to work with the UA’s Global Initiatives program to offer her perspectives to students interested in studying abroad. She has reached out to Hillary Vance, a study abroad coordinator with the office of Global Initiatives, who advises students on programs offered in Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific and Spain.

“Students can come in and talk to us, of course,” Vance said, “but I think when it comes to talking to an Arizona student who’s had the specific experience and can relate to them on that level, she’s going to be very useful.”

After graduating from the UA, Herron said she plans on attending graduate school to study health promotion and education. Herron said she would like to eventually work with children, educating them on staying healthy and avoiding health problems like obesity, which, she said, is a major health concern both in the U.S. and in Australia.

Herron said she strongly recommends that all students consider the option of studying abroad.
“It gives you a really different perspective on the world,” she said. “It’s something I think everyone should do if they have the chance.”

– Follow Mark Armao @MarkArmao

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