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New MTSU Education Abroad Director Sees Beyond Horizon

Tiffany Bickers is the new director of the MTSU Office of Education Abroad, replacing Rhonda Waller, who resigned to take a position at the University of Texas in Austin.

As coordinator of the office from July 2008-March 2012, Bickers advised students regarding study-abroad programs, helped to market and promote programs through the CUSTOMS program and Study Abroad Fair and managed the budget and website, among other duties.

“My main goal is to pinpoint what our office is doing well and where we’re lacking and how to improve in those areas,” says Bickers. “Our mission is to support MTSU students who want to add an education-abroad component to their degree.”

She says many students tell her they are drawn to study in another country for the opportunity “to put yourself outside of your comfort zone and see what kind of skills you can learn from that, to adapt to a situation you never thought you could adapt to because you had to.”

Bickers says “companies are looking for students who participated in study-abroad when they were in University” because those students have better communication skills and more international knowledge.

This summer features two innovative study-abroad offerings—the June collaboration between MTSU and Fukushima University students in cleaning up debris from last year’s earthquake and tsunami and the expansion of the Honduran study-abroad experience from speech and theater students to include faculty and students from a variety of disciplines.

“A select group of MTSU faculty has designed a multifaceted approach to study, practice, engagement and reflection that sets a new standard for faculty-led programs in the United States,” says Dr. David Schmidt, vice provost for international affairs.

Bickers’ previous experience includes work as executive aide in the Office of International Education from April 2007-June 2008 and resident director and community development coordinator at Marymount College in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., from August 2005-June 2006.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and cross-cultural sociology from Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, Tenn., in 1997 and a master’s degree in higher education administration from MTSU in 2009.

For more information about study-abroad opportunities at MTSU, contact the Office of Education Abroad at 615-898-5179 or mtabroad@mtsu.edu