Category Archives: Study Abroad

Study abroad experience highlight for hospitality student

Light skinned male with short brown hair wearing hoodie, tan jacket and backpack in front of a world map.

RIT/NTID's Connor Draughn wanted to get out of his comfort zone and try something new, so the hospitality and tourism management major decided to spend a semester studying at RIT Croatia.

“I learned a lot about myself,” said Draughn, who is from Raleigh, N.C. “For sure it is a highlight of my time at RIT.”

Draughn was helped by the Constellation Brands Study Abroad Fund, which supports hospitality students who want to study in Croatia.

Ginny Clark, senior vice president of Public Affairs for Constellation Brands, said given the importance of global learning, Constellation felt that this opportunity for RIT students would be a meaningful way to give back.

“Today’s business world is global—and the key to a successful global business is building strong, trusted relationships,” said Clark ’06, ’08 (hospitality and service management, service leadership and innovation). “Constellation believes that creating this scholarship opportunity for students to study abroad supports the experiential educational efforts that RIT sees as a critical component to a student’s education.”

Supporting hospitality students, Clark added, made sense for Constellation Brands, which is a global beverage alcohol company—but at its core is a hospitality company.

“It was quite natural that Constellation would see a strong connection with our philanthropy and the School of International Hospitality and Service Innovation,” she said.

Draughn, who got his associate degree in hospitality and services management from NTID in 2016, started pursuing a bachelor’s degree last year. He spent the fall semester of 2017 in Dubrovnik, Croatia, taking hospitality and tourism classes. He is minoring in history, he said, so he enjoyed living in the historic city and learning about the culture and the country.

After he graduates from RIT, Draughn said, he plans to pursue a master’s degree in hospitality and tourism. He hopes to one day become a travel coordinator for a professional sports team or for a Fortune 500 company.

The study abroad experience had such an impact on Draughn that after he returned, he got a job as a Global Ambassador coaching other RIT students about opportunities abroad.

“I like helping people,” Draughn said. “I like telling other students about my experience so they will think about doing something different while they are in school.”

RIT/NTID student Maya Penn to fulfill personal longing for service with Peace Corps mission

Dark skinned female with dark braided hair wearing a multi-color scarf and purple long-sleeved top.

Growing up in foster care, Maya Penn was surrounded by people who understood the value of sharing and caring for others. Just one month after Penn graduates with her bachelor’s degree in psychology from RIT’s College of Liberal Arts, she will fulfill her own personal quest for serving others with the Peace Corps in Africa.

Penn, who is deaf, is eagerly anticipating her two-year assignment— teaching deaf children in Ghana.  

“This will be a time of significant personal growth for me,” said Penn, who hails from the Bay Area in California. “And I’m just looking forward to impacting the lives of so many children, where there is such a need.”

Although Penn admits that she didn’t know much about the Peace Corps before applying, she knew that she wanted to travel and was hooked when she discovered that there were positions for deaf and hard-of-hearing people to work in schools for those who are deaf. After videophone conversations with Peace Corps volunteers and administrators, Penn applied, interviewed and was accepted into the program.

Penn says that this experience is a “big step” for her, and she is eager to learn as much as she can about different cultures. And even though she’s a bit nervous, she believes her related experiences as a teaching assistant in a school for deaf children, her work at summer camps and at RIT’s Margaret’s House child care center, and her experience tutoring American Sign Language will also contribute to her success in Africa.

And she’s no stranger to traveling in not-so-perfect conditions, having backpacked extensively through Central America and Jamaica.

“I believe that it’s so important for people to study or travel abroad,” said Penn. “It’s crucial to learn from and meet people from other cultures. There are so many opportunities that grow out of these experiences. Of course, you learn and grow in an academic environment, but what you can learn outside of the classroom is beneficial, too.”

At RIT/NTID, Penn was vice president of NTID’s Ebony Club, worked with the NTID Student Life team, was a community student advocate and was involved in theater. She also played intramural volleyball and basketball.

“I’ve loved so much about the RIT/NTID community, including the students, my mentors and all of the events and opportunities,” she said.

Sarah Sarchet, a lecturer at RIT/NTID, met Penn in 2016 when Penn was accepted into RIT’s WOCHA (Women of Color, Honor and Ambition) program.

“Maya is natural leader and a true empath,” said Sarchet. “We ‘clicked’ as a mentor/mentee pair because of how well Maya can relate to others. We both come from large families with many siblings as well as mixed-race families. We had many shared experiences, and our conversations flowed naturally, despite the fact that we had only known each other briefly. And she has been truly bitten by the travel bug. This makes her skilled at meeting new people and learning new cultures. She is unafraid of leaving her comfort zone to try new adventures.”

Of course, Penn says she will miss her parents, who are both RIT/NTID alumni.

“My mom is worried, of course, but she made sure that it’s safe and that I’m in good hands. She’s just so happy that I have the opportunity to do something like this with my life.”

After her work with the Peace Corps, Penn is thinking about pursuing a graduate degree in social work, driven by her time in the foster care system. But she also likes to keep her options open.

“You just never know what’s going to happen after two years in Africa.”

New RIT Dubai campus coming to Dubai Silicon Oasis

Aerial view of new RIT Dubai Silicon Oasis campus

RIT Dubai will receive a state-of-the-art new campus in the Dubai Silicon Oasis. The campus, which will feature an innovation and entrepreneurship center and sustainable building processes, will accommodate up to 4,000 students and will be developed in two phases, with the first portion set to open in 2019 and the second to open in 2023. The campus will bring new global education opportunities for students from the Rochester campus through RIT's study abroad program. More.

RIT/NTID’s Geraldine Dang shares her international study experience

Woman with long dark hair, smiling wearing glasses and a blue long-sleeved top carrying a blue umbrella w/flower design on it.

RIT/NTID student Geraldine Dang was featured in RIT's Fellowships & Scholarships for Global Education newsletter. She is a 3D Digital Design major and studied in Singapore, supported by The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program. 

"Before I attended NTID, I had no idea what studying abroad was. While at NTID, some of my friends chose to study or work as interns in Italy, Croatia, Japan and China. I then began to dream that I could do something similar one day. I chose to apply to a program in Singapore because Singapore is known for its use of advanced technology. With my background in Graphic Technology and 3D Digital Design, I am interested in all Digital Design work. Also, Singapore is well known for its multiculturalism where the different nationalities (Chinese, Indians, Malaysians, and Caucasians) live together in harmony. The streets, I am told, have signs in four different languages! The government promotes respect of the different cultures, funds the technologies, and provides universal healthcare to its citizens. This is the “caring” aspect of the culture I would like to learn along with how the deaf people live in Singapore. Finally, my grandfather used to be a diplomat working in both Malaysia and Singapore, and it means a lot for me to be able to study and have an internship at a place where he used to work.

"My advisor suggested that I apply for the Benjamin Gilman International scholarship to help pay for the trip abroad. Even though I was nervous to write the essays, I knew that the statement of purpose essay should describe me and my aspirations, and that my project proposal essay should be meaningful. For my follow up project, I plan to capture my daily activities on video and share my thoughts about studying and working abroad. The video will be presented at RIT and NTID with help from RIT Global to inspire other students. I will also present it to the Rochester School for the Deaf and to my family and friends."

RIT/NTID associate professor earns service award from Visions Global Empowerment

Catherine Clark with many young Ethiopian children smiling and signing

Catherine Clark, associate professor, National Technical Institute for the Deaf, Rochester Institute of Technology, was honored for her “Outstanding Dedication to Service” by Visions Global Empowerment during its annual awards ceremony in April.

Clark, who has worked at NTID for 30 years and is also an audiologist and cochlear implant specialist, was recognized for her volunteer work with deaf and hard-of-hearing children and adults in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia. During several visits to Ethiopia between 2014 and 2016, Clark administered hearing tests—the first for most in that area—and collaborated with a regional center that provides tutoring and preschool services to deaf children. In addition to hiring deaf teachers, the center established classes for deaf and hard-of-hearing learners; distributed sign-language dictionaries; taught Ethiopian Sign Language to deaf and hard-of-hearing children, adults, families, teachers, school administrators, university students and doctors; and developed a deaf entrepreneurship program. The staff invited Clark to establish an audiological assessment and intervention center to complement their educational efforts.

During a 2015 trip to the region, Clark consulted for a program that conducts community screenings, assessments and public education programs, and created a clinical audiology manual. She also helped with teaching parents about hearing-aid use and maintenance for their children. Since 2014, 111 individuals have received audiology services, 48 individuals have received hearing aids and 130 individuals have been examined by Ethiopian ear, nose and throat specialists. According to Clark, the Ethiopian deaf and hard-of-hearing community also served as audiology assistants.

“Many years ago, I mentioned to someone that one of my personal and professional goals was to open up a clinic for deaf and hard-of-hearing people of color,” said Clark. “Little did I know that I would end up doing this for the people in Ethiopia. Volunteering is a new piece of the puzzle for me, and the community in Bahir Dar is so appreciative of those who volunteer. It’s nice to go back every few months and bring a skill that I was trained to do in the form of audiology testing and directly impacting the deaf and hard-of-hearing community there. I really can’t wait to go back to Bahir Dar to see the kids and bond with the deaf adult community. There are similarities between American Sign Language and Ethiopian Sign Language. As a result, we have a language in which we can all understand each other.”

Gerry Buckley, NTID president and RIT vice president and dean, added: “I, along with the NTID community, admire Catherine for her dedication to improving the lives of deaf and hard-of-hearing people in Ethiopia, and we are all grateful for the amazing and impactful work that she does here on campus. We can all learn from her willingness to give of herself.”

Clark plans to return to Ethiopia this summer to continue her work.

Visions Global Empowerment is a global nonprofit organization dedicated to youth education and empowerment and changing patterns of inequality by supporting educational initiatives for youth affected by poverty, conflict and disability.

Share Achievements on Merit

Encourage your student to share achievements through Merit. Merit lets students share their successes — such as making the Dean’s List, joining a club or fraternity, studying abroad, getting a job and even graduating — with their friends and family through their social media networks. Each RIT student has a Merit profile page. More

Study Abroad

Go Global! Our students are taking advantage of increasing opportunities to study abroad—to travel, learn and get college credit for it. RIT/NTID faculty are leading trips abroad and so far have taken groups of students last summer to Italy to study photography.

Spring semester will offer an International Studies Seminar in Costa Rica.There students will be able to enjoy experiences of different cultures and have time to complete related student projects during fall semester 2014, earning 3 credit hours. They will interact with the Deaf community: visit schools, organizations for the deaf and engage in discussions with leaders. Visiting the rain forest, beaches, waterfalls, cloud forest and volcanoes will add to their study of biodiversity in Costa Rica. If your student is interested in study abroad, contact Dr. Denise Kavin at dskpen@rit.edu or 585-475-4661(TTY) or 585-286-5244 (videophone).