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How Miami Is Encouraging Underrepresented Students To Study Abroad

Students in Miami's study abroad program sent this photo from a boat trip to the Cies Islands off the coast of Vigo, Spain, in June 2017.
Courtesy of Miami University Global Initiatives
Students in Miami's study abroad program sent this photo from a boat trip to the Cies Islands off the coast of Vigo, Spain, in June 2017.

Miami University argues studying abroad can be a life-changing experience and it wants more students to give it a try. The school is launching a campaign encouraging underrepresented students to get involved.

"The goal is showing the message to Miami students that studying abroad is for everyone," says Kristin Magyari, assistant director for communications and marketing with Global Initiatives, which supports the school's program.

The university reports about 43% of students study abroad but says students of color, those with financial needs, males and international students are underrepresented.

"There's a lot of myths out there like 'Studying abroad isn't for me because my major can't go' or maybe 'It's not for me because it's too expensive' or maybe 'It's not for me because I don't even know how to get started,' " Magyari says. "We want to bust those myths."

She says studying abroad can be accessible for all students. For example, the university has a scholarship program to help students cover the cost.

Studying abroad is important because it makes the whole university better, she adds.

"We need every perspective to go out and have these international experiences in order for them to come back to campus and bring them back to their classes."

Study Abroad Is For Me

The Global Initiatives team is getting its message out by launching "Study Abroad is for Me" (SAIFM) on April 24. The public awareness campaign incorporates digital storytelling and promotional videos aimed at helping students visualize themselves studying abroad and tackling some of the myths about why they can't.

"We think that the student-to-student stories are what are really going to resonate with other students," says Magyari.

The campaign includes stories from 10 students of various racial and ethnic backgrounds from Miami's Oxford and regional campuses. The participants come from different majors and familial backgrounds, including international students.

"Some people don't know that international students can study abroad," says Jingjing Luo, a first-year student from China. "A lot of my friends think they can't go because they're already studying abroad here in the United States."

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Tana Weingartner earned a bachelor's degree in communication from the University of Cincinnati and a master's degree in mass communication from Miami University. Most recently, she served as news and public affairs producer with WMUB-FM. Ms. Weingartner has earned numerous awards for her reporting, including several Best Reporter awards from the Associated Press and the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and a regional Murrow Award. She served on the Ohio Associated Press Broadcasters Board of Directors from 2007 - 2009.