The IFSA University Relations team has grown rapidly over the last few years. Its expansion continues with three new roles, designed to offer the best support for our institutional partners. We are pleased to announce the addition of DyNishia Miller, Erin Morris, and Mandy Schumerth as Assistant Field Directors. Below, you will find a little about them personally, their path through international education, and what brought them to IFSA.
What drew you to IFSA?
“After participating in a study abroad program myself that had community has one of its main pillars, the IFSA Community and Culture course offered for all programs really drew me into IFSA’s mission. I truly believe that there is no way to build a strong cultural competency while being a foreigner in a new country besides learning what it means to be the other which is what the Community and Culture course aims to do.” – Erin Morris
“I had the pleasure of studying in Mérida during Swine Flu season through IFSA in spring of 2009, and was able to avoid sickness (mostly, outside of results of some delicious sorbet that was arguably made with non-filtered water) and loved my semester abroad! I honestly didn’t want to come back. Throughout the process, I compared details about IFSA to programs my brother went through in Madrid and my sister went through in Guadalajara, and in my mind IFSA was far superior in regards to preparing me for the experience and also assuring that my semester was full of a wide array of adventure as well as language and culture immersion. After I graduated with a major in Spanish and a minor in Education, Study Abroad was one of my main career interests, so I have sporadically monitored IFSA’s career site for the past 7 years before finally being drawn to and applying for the Assistant Field Director position.” – Mandy Schumerth
“As someone who studied abroad in both undergrad and graduate school, study abroad is something I’m very passionate about. Once I learned about the AFD position and researched more about the organization, I was drawn to IFSA’s commitments to Inclusive Excellence, Individualized Learning, Intercultural Agility, and Enduring Impact. This commitment shows how IFSA truly cares about students before, during, and after their study abroad experiences.” – DyNishia Miller
What is your experience either studying abroad or traveling?
“My first experience abroad was on a high school exchange in Galicia, Spain. This experience then led me to study abroad in Madrid, Spain and walk the entirety of El camino, a 776 km walk from France to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. I then moved to Córdoba, Argentina to study and participate in an international internship. I have now traveled to 13 countries on four continents.” – Erin Morris
“Outside of my study abroad, I have traveled to 31 states as well as Jamaica, Ecuador, Belfast/Northern Ireland and Dublin, Ireland, Guadalajara/Queretaro/DF/Tijuana/Rosarito, Mexico as well as Mérida again to visit to my host mother with whom I maintain contact, and of course hypothetically Cuba illegally during my IFSA semester ;)” – Mandy Schumerth
“I studied abroad in Spain and South Africa and took part in a 9-day Spring Term trip to Puerto Rico.” – DyNishia Miller
What’s something that drew you to international higher education?
“After mentoring out-bound study abroad students upon my own return from study abroad I knew that I wanted to do more to encourage university students to broaden their world view by immersing themselves in other contexts and cultures. Beyond that, I had wonderful mentors of my own during my time as a study abroad student and knew that I wanted to help make someone else’s experience studying abroad as impactful as it was for me.” – Erin Morris
“In our current political climate and in realizing how much my abroad experience reshaped my worldview, I have become increasingly more interested in encouraging people to live or at least travel abroad and know what it is to feel foreign and out of one’s comfort zone. I feel fortunate to join IFSA and to have the opportunity to emphasize to students and institutions the long-term value of a study abroad experience during college!” – Mandy Schumerth
“I’m passionate about higher education in general and combine that with the experience I’ve gained through travel, the relationships I’ve built with people from around the world, and my Master’s degree in International Relations, international higher education is a perfect fit for me.” – DyNishia Miller
What excites you the most about working with our institutional partners?
“I am most excited to meet the staff and students of universities across the country to find out what drives them to study abroad or work in the field.” – Erin Morris
“Since I have long loved IFSA, I am very excited to be able to make it clear to our institutional partners that IFSA is a great opportunity for their students looking to go abroad, and also to reassure them that their students are in great hands while in our programs.” – Mandy Schumerth
“I’m excited to learn how each institutional partner functions and what makes them unique. This knowledge will help me figure out how I can best support them.” – DyNishia Miller
What is something that not many people know about you?
“My favorite food is popcorn and I get popcorn kernels from the Amish grocery store, Forks, in Shipshewana, Indiana. They are the best quality kernel I have found in all my travels.” – Erin Morris
“I learned in a terrifying way while I was abroad to always ask for translation of unknown words, as I entered Río Largartos one night, despite warnings from Mexican friends that there were ‘largartos’ in the water. I assumed it meant mud because the water was very muddy; as I was about knee deep in water and mud, someone finally yelled in English, “There are alligators in the water!” Top 10 scariest moments for sure, and thankfully I escaped the water rapidly with all my limbs attached and no alligator/crocodile sightings. As we were on a school weekend trip, I was the ongoing joke of the weekend, particularly after I cut myself on rocks and came back to the group with a bloody leg the following day.” – Mandy Schumerth
“I’m a Law & Order SVU super-fan. I’ve seen every episode (most at least twice), written a research paper about the series, and I own seasons 1-16.” – DyNishia Miller