Do you ever stumble across someone in the field doing something truly energizing, and think, "Wow, I love what they are doing". It happens to me all the time. When I come across a higher education rock star, I track them down on social media so I can pin/follow/like and generally bookmark them for my own professional inspiration. That is how first I came across Sinclair Ceasar, creator of www.thesapronextdoor.com and author of Two Thousand Hours: Advice for a New Student Affairs Professional.
Sinclair works at Loyola University Maryland as the Assistant Director of Student Life. He's also a public speaker who conducts university workshops on topics such as community engagement, networking, conflict resolution & management.
You may be thinking, wait-- Sinclair is a student affairs professional, not an international educator. What gives? Well, I strongly believe that international education can be a bit too insular. I try hard to remain connected to other areas of higher education, particularly the good work being done in student affairs. This is how I grow as a professional.
I signed up for Sinclair's email newsletter in June 2015 because I was inspired by "Notes from Sinclair". This is a project where he sends a free inspirational snail mail to strangers who need a pick-me-up. Anyone can sign up (or sign someone else up) and get them on the list to receive a kind handwritten note. Want to see what I am talking about? Just check out #notesfromsinclair
Like most of you can imagine, I forgot about it and moved on. (Sorry, Sinclair). Life got in the way. So it goes. Until one day, as I was writing this post about job search burnout I thought back to Sinclair's "happy mail" project, and his sincere desire to make kindness go viral. I decided to check back in on his blog and sent him some Twitter love
Twitter led to the two of us connecting for an uplifting phone conversation about how we could join forces in supporting Study Abroad Careers job seekers during their long and frustrating search process.
I don't want to give anything away just yet, but I have to share my excitement about connecting with Sinclair, and let you know we have something in the works for you. I am so excited to partner with him to spread his positive energy throughout the education abroad community.
Emerging Educator Spotlight Series
These short interviews feature Study Abroad Careers readers, allowing YOU to share your own career experiences with the community, whether it's a job search, graduate school, or an entrepreneurial journey.
Program Administrator, Summer Sessions & Special Programs, UC Riverside
Former intern, UC Riverside Study Abroad
Bachelors, Art History, UC Riverside
Masters, Art History, UC Riverside
Masters, Higher Education Leadership & Student Development, California Baptist University
(I'm proud to be one of the graduates of the program’s very first cohort!)
During my BA and MA in Art History, I spent the summer studying Shakespeare and the history of London in England. The summer study abroad program I participated in was wonderful; the instructor takes a completely hands-on, immersive approach to learning and teaching. “Class” consisted of walking tours around the city every day, watching Shakespeare plays at the Globe, taking bus and train rides to historical sites around England, visiting museums, and spending time with the professor’s longtime friends in the city.
Q. Tell us about your journey into education abroad work.
A. I recently finished an internship in the Study Abroad department at UC Riverside and started working as a contracted program administrator in UCR’s office of Summer Sessions & Special Programs. My internship was amazing, and I am truly grateful for the opportunity as it gave me the chance to understand what it really means to work in global education on a day-to-day basis and really solidified my desire to break into the field.
Even though I’m eager to move back into the realm of global education, I’m enjoying my current position, as I get to work with both traditional and nontraditional college students as well as take on more administrative, technical projects. I am currently finishing grad school and still volunteering with Study Abroad when I can, along with keeping an eye out for positions that better align with my goals and passions.
Q. What led you to pursue work in study abroad?
A. My obsession with international travel really began in high school, when I was fortunate enough to tour Austria with the chamber choir I was a part of. We sang at a number of concerts, ceremonies, and services in Vienna and Salzburg to participate in Mozart’s 250th birthday celebration. We also got to attend an Austrian high school and hang out with students!
Even at a young age, I had an appreciation for other cultures and a desire for intentional, meaningful travel experiences. This stuck with me throughout college, and when I realized that I want to work in student services, working for a study abroad program just felt right. It felt like a career path that would perfectly blend what I’m good at, along with what I want to do professionally as well as my interests and passions. My internship at UCR sealed the deal.
Q. What part(s) of the study abroad process do you find most interesting?
A. I think the transition that happens in a student when they go from being interested to committed is fascinating. During my internship at UCR I got the opportunity to advise students who had already applied to programs, but also who were at that stage just before committing to going. Talking to these students, telling them about the opportunities we offered and sharing my own experiences and watching their attitudes transform into “yes, I’m doing this” was amazing.
I am also really interested in program sustainability, as well as the collaboration between departments necessary to encourage participation among student groups that have historically lower rates of involvement. I am especially interested in making study abroad more of a possibility for science students, who often face unique challenges that can inhibit participation.
Q. What is your education abroad dream job?
A. Anything that involves frequent site visits! Actually, my dream education abroad job right now would be building a program from the ground up at a campus that doesn’t have one. Specifically, there’s a university that I’m familiar with that does not have its own on-campus study abroad department; the students who do go abroad (there are a few each year) go through outside vendors the school has partnered with. I would love to collaborate and create partnerships with schools abroad and literally build some homegrown study abroad programs for the student body at that campus.
Q. What has surprised you most about the field of study abroad?
A. I will never stop being so amazed by the students who dive headfirst into a study abroad program without having ever traveled before! Seeing students commit to spending months in another country when they might not have ever experienced another culture at all always surprises me. I wish more students had that adventurous spirit!
As I’m learning more about program development and sustainability, I am also very surprised by how much planning and collaboration goes into creating a program. I’ve had quite a bit of experience with the marketing, advertising, and student-centered aspects of program development, but the behind-the-scenes stuff and the sheer amount of work that goes into building a program from the ground up is scary and really, really exciting.