UB Around the Globe:
A Feature Series on UBalt Alumni (and Students!) Working and Traveling Abroad
Part 1: 'We All Have to Be Somewhere in This World'
At the University of Baltimore, we like to say that our alumni go everywhere, and do everything. And it's not an exaggeration: While a significant majority of UBalt graduates work and live right here in Maryland, an impressive number of them find jobs and build their lives in countries all over the globe.
In our continuing series, UBalt Around the Globe, we’re finding out what these peripatetic alumni are up to. Teaching English in Thailand? Check. Selling steel pipe in Turkey? Sure. Developing affordable housing in Pakistan? Definitely. Saving tigers in Bangladesh? Yes!
University of Baltimore students aren't just dipping into international waters for a year or two before returning home for a secure job in Washington or Baltimore. Many are lifers—they found a job in another country shortly after graduation, and decided to stay. Or they were over there, returned home, then were pulled back to a second, third, or even fourth country (possibly in a completely different field). In other words, there is a real commitment to an international career for these mighty traveling alumni.
As Gary F. Collins, J.D. '87, recently described it: "If one wants to work abroad you must be flexible, determined and adaptable. It is not easy at all but it is the only life I can imagine. We all have to be somewhere in this world. You might as well be in a place that stimulates you."
In the first part of our overview of UBalt's international alumni presence, we'll take a look at four graduates who found their way to far-off countries. Their interviews are edited for length and clarity.
Lauren Breland, B.A. '05, is a leader in the Peace Corps, first in Thailand and now in South Africa.
Gary F. Collins
Gary F. Collins, J.D. '87, is a career lawyer working in global hot zones—and now he's helping to save the Bengal tiger in Bangladesh.
Jawad Aslam, B.S. '96, is developing affordable housing in Pakistan.
Ersin Sezmis, MBA '09, is exporting steel goods from Turkey.
Part II: 'When We Come Back, We're Changed'
Sometimes the best way to understand a topic better is by experiencing it through the eyes and ears of another culture. At UBalt, students have the opportunity to do just that.
Through partnerships with institutes of higher learning overseas, relationships with foreign businesses seeking our expertise, and programs designed to create a mutually beneficial cultural exchange, the University of Baltimore has developed an active role on the global stage.
Not only do we offer degrees in international affairs, international studies, and international business; 2.8 percent of enrollment comes from international students. Plenty of UBalt students even take their degrees abroad after graduation. These alumni choose to either return to their home countries with the experience and knowledge they've acquired during their time here, or they travel somewhere new entirely.
But for some UBalt students, a chance to learn through travel and experiencing cultures in new parts of the world isn't the story of how they got here or where their time here took them—it is part of the curriculum. These students, who have taken the opportunity to travel for credits while enrolled, return to Baltimore with a new perspective, through which they might understand their prospective majors a little bit better.
All undergraduate and graduate students, for example, have had the opportunity to study abroad for the past several years through the Global Experiences in Criminal Justice program. These trips have taken students to Belgium, Germany, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, England, and Spain; and have offered an immersive look at such issues as human trafficking, gender-based violence, and human rights issues on a global scale.
Likewise, Industrial and Organizational Psychology majors have the opportunity to study in Spain or France; while the Merrick School of Business offers multiple Global Field Studies opportunities a year. In the summer of 2016, a trip to Cuba was even arranged in an effort, preceded by UBalt President Kurt Schmoke's 2015 trip, to establish a relationship with Cuban institutes of higher learning.
"The people-to-people exchanges in which we have participated have been of benefit to Cuba and the United States," says Schmoke on the importance of such experiences. "These visits underscore for participants that citizens of countries often have different views of one another than governments of countries. Our students learned from meeting with Cubans that there is more that unites us than divides us."
Alyxandrya McClelland, B.A. '16, has been on multiple UBalt trips, including France, Scotland and Curaçao.
David Sebastio, B.A. '16, traveled to Nicaragua in 2015.
Shelby Reichardt is an Industrial and Organizational Psychology student, who recently accompanied her fellow students on a trip to Europe to meet their international counterparts in a growing field.
Shelby Blondell, B.S. '15, MBA '18, is an entrepreneur with an international outlook on life.