Global Engagement Solutions for Higher Education


Student Story: Successes & Untapped Potential

February 12, 2024


In this 2:47 video, Alison Nagy highlights academic value and students pursuing majors abroad. Emphasizing affordability, she promotes accessible study abroad programs at American University with diverse choices and financial aid, making it an achievable goal for all.

From a podcast interview with Alison Nagy, a seasoned professional with over 18 years of expertise in international education, serving as the Associate Director of the Study Abroad and Inbound Programs for International Education at American University.

Embracing a World of Possibilities

Study abroad programs have become increasingly popular among college students, allowing them to gain valuable international experience while continuing their academic studies. American University has successfully promoted study abroad by carefully designing programs that align with students’ majors and ensuring that the financial burden is not a barrier. In this article, we will explore the key factors that have contributed to the success of study abroad at American University, including the focus on academic value, affordability, and accessibility for all students.

Academic Value: Continuing Major Course of Study

Study abroad programs have long been recognized as a transformative experience for students, allowing them to immerse themselves in different cultures, gain a global perspective, and develop valuable skills. In a conversation with Alison Nagy, an 18-year veteran at American University's study abroad program, she shares the story of students who return from their study abroad experiences with a newfound desire to pursue graduate studies abroad. This desire to continue their education in a foreign country is a testament to the impact that studying abroad can have on a student's personal and academic growth.

Alison highlights the importance of experiencing a different educational style and how it contributes to a student's learning style. Studying abroad exposes students to new teaching methods, approaches, and perspectives that challenge their preconceived notions of education. This exposure broadens their horizons and encourages them to think beyond the traditional path of pursuing higher education in their home country.

“It just opens their mind to my next step doesn't have to be limited to just this. What I thought it was before I studied abroad.”

The Ripple Effect of Success

One of the most powerful drivers of participation in study abroad programs is returning students' success and positive experiences. Alison reveals that students often come to her expressing their desire to study abroad because they have heard about the great experiences of their peers. This word-of-mouth promotion creates a ripple effect as students inspire and encourage each other to embark on their study-abroad journeys.

The impact of this positive feedback loop cannot be overstated. When students see their friends and classmates thriving in a study abroad program, they become more motivated to pursue the same opportunity. This increases participation rates and fosters a sense of community and camaraderie among study-abroad participants.

“Students come in telling us they want to pick a location because they heard other students in their major saying this was a great program for their major. They had such an amazing time there. They want to go there too.”

Unlocking Untapped Potential

While the current participation rates in American University’s study abroad programs are impressive (60% ), Alison acknowledges that there is still room for growth. She emphasizes the importance of reaching out to students who may not initially self-identify as potential study abroad candidates. By actively encouraging and promoting study-abroad opportunities, universities can tap into the untapped potential of students who may not have considered studying abroad as a viable option.

Alison's commitment to expanding participation rates is a testament to the belief that every student can benefit from a study abroad experience. She recognizes that there are always more students to reach and more work to be done to ensure that all students have the opportunity to explore the world and expand their horizons.

Embracing the Future

As universities face enrollment declines and increasing competition, study abroad programs offer a unique opportunity to attract and retain students. The success stories and positive experiences of study-abroad participants serve as powerful marketing tools, showcasing the transformative impact of these programs. By leveraging these success stories and actively promoting study-abroad opportunities, universities can differentiate themselves and attract students seeking a truly global education.

Furthermore, study abroad experiences benefit individual students and contribute to a university's overall diversity and global perspective. By fostering a community of globally-minded individuals, universities can create an environment that encourages cross-cultural understanding, collaboration, and innovation.


In conclusion, study abroad programs can unlock a world of possibilities for students. The personal and academic growth that students experience during their time abroad can shape their future educational and career paths. By harnessing the success stories of study-abroad participants and actively promoting these opportunities, universities can increase participation rates and create a truly global community of learners. As Alison Nagy reminds us, more work must be done to encourage students to study abroad and embrace the transformative power of international education.

To catch the full interview with Alison, CLICK HERE.