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UT Austin International Office Study Abroad

This year's symposium will focus on creating access in Latin America, through panels and discussion featuring a mix of faculty and staff from UT Austin and visiting experts. The symposium will provide a forum for faculty, academic advisors, and international educators to foster dialog and mutual understanding. Presentations by industry leaders and academic partners on relevant topics will create a unique opportunity for participants to learn and discuss best practices around equity and access. Participants can expect to learn about the role they can play in increasing access to international education and can exchange ideas and expertise with participants from other organizations and universities as well.



Registration fee for UT Austin faculty and staff is $30 per person. Contact the symposium coordinator if you need to pay via inter-departmental transfer (IDT).
Registration fee for guests is $75. Please register by Friday, September 11, 2015.

Register here >>


Symposium Schedule - Friday, September 25, 2015, Student Activity Center

8:30 - 9:00       Registration - Student Activity Center Ballroom 2.410

9:00 - 9:30       Welcome: Dr. Janet Ellzey, Vice Provost of International Programs and Heather Thompson, Director of Study Abroad, International Office - Student Activity Center Ballroom 2.410

9:30 - 10:45     Opening Session: A Partnership Framework for Increasing Collaboration with Mexic​o​ - Student Activity Center Ballroom 2.410

Chair: Dr. Teri Albrecht, Executive Director of the International Office

Presenters: Joaquin Guerra Achem, Director for International Affairs, Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey; Carlos González Gutiérrez, Cónsul General de Mexico; and Dr. Charles Hale, Professor and Director of the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies, College of Liberal Arts, UT Austin

Description: As the University of Texas at Austin works to increase ties with Latin America through strategic partnerships, expert presenters will discuss successful strategies for increased collaboration. This session will reveal the student impact of leveraging research and exchange partnerships to increase international education opportunities and will demonstrate challenges international degree seekers face. Presenters will also highlight the impact on international partners when moving towards a high-percentage mobility rate. Finally, the California System-Mexico accord will underscore how a similar agreement with the state of Texas would impact higher education, with economic implications for both Mexico and Texas.

10:45 - 11:00   Coffee Break​ - Student Activity Center Ballroom 2.410

11:00 - 12:15   Session 2: Internationalization from the Student Perspective​ - Student Activity Center Ballroom 2.410

Chair: Margaret McCullers, Curriculum Integration & Special Projects Coordinator, Study Abroad, International Office

Student Presenters: Laura Cardona Zuluaga, June Gunaratne, Manuel Isernia, Zach Lozano, and Abraham Martinez Ornelas

Description: A student panel consisting of ESL students, study abroad participants, and international students and scholars will highlight their international experiences at UT Austin or in Latin America. After presenters have had the opportunity to share their individual stories, a majority of the session will be open to questions and discussion from the audience. 

12:15 - 1:30     Keynote Lunch by Margaret Hug: The 100,000 Strong in the Americas Initiative: Impact on Campus Internationalization - Student Activity Center Ballroom 2.410

Description: The keynote address will explore the presidential 100,000 Strong in the Americas campaign goal of moving 100,000 students in both directions by 2020. The session will highlight program goals, milestones, and impacts on deepening relationships across the Hemisphere. Campus resources and examples of grant awardees and their initiatives will also be covered, including the UT Austin-based Young Latin American Initiative on business and social entrepreneurship, funded by the Department of State. 

1:45 - 3:00       Session 3a: DACA & Dreamers: Supporting Student Mobility​ - Student Activity Center 2.120, Meeting Room

Chair: Dan Siefken, Program Coordinator, Study Abroad, International Office

Presenters: Meghan Merchant, Program Coordinator, International Student and Scholar Services, International Office; DACA study abroad alumna

Description: What type of services, support and advocacy should U.S. colleges and universities provide to Undocumented and DACA-mented students? What are the barriers encountered by students and staff along the way?  What is the most accurate information regarding federal and state DACA regulations? Gain valuable insight into DACA and a holistic support model that includes admissions, financial aid, advising and study abroad.

Session 3b: Education Abroad: Spain vs. Latin America - Student Activity Center 2.302, Legislative Assembly Room

Chair: Monya Lemery, Associate Director of Study Abroad, International Office

Presenters: Jennifer Attal Allen, President and Executive Director, Academic Programs International; Lia Haisley, Senior Academic Advisor, College of Liberal Arts; and Dr. Deborah Palmer, Associate Professor, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, College of Liberal Arts

Description: What is it going to take to shift the American college student’s focus from Spain to Latin America? What new collaborations need to be developed to influence student perceptions and final decisions? Presenters will discuss these challenges from their individual perspectives and evaluate a few case studies as a means to understand what lies ahead.

3:00 - 3:15       Coffee Break - Outside each session

3:15 - 4:30       Session 4a: Generation Study Abroad: UT’s Commitment to Doubling Participation in Latin America by 2020​ - Student Activity Center Ballroom 2.410

Chair: Heather Thompson, Director of Study Abroad, International Office

Presenter: Dr. Aileen Bumphus, Assistant Vice President, Division of Diversity & Community Engagement

Description:  Generation Study Abroad is an initiative of the Institute of International Education (IIE) to mobilize resources and commitments with the goal of doubling the number of U.S. students studying abroad by the end of the decade. The University of Texas at Austin’s commitment pledge is to double the number of students studying in Latin America. Engage in thoughtful dialogue about how this initiative will support nontraditional students and create new pathways to access.

Session 4b: Affording College: Financial Support Opportunities for Latin American Students - Student Activity Center 2.302, Legislative Assembly Room  

Chair: Patricia Gamboa, Assistant Director of Sponsored Student Services, International Student & Scholar Services, International Office

Presenters: Phuoc Bui, Support Services Advisor-Financial Aid and Taxes Lead, International Student & Scholar Services; and Tina Fiet, Sponsored Student Advisor, International Student & Scholar Services

Description: U.S. colleges and university costs are increasing every year, which can be a challenge for Latin American students who want to pursue their dream of studying in the United States. This session will look at scholarship programs administered by UT Austin that are available to Latin American students. It will examine how UT Austin has worked with exchange partners to increase participation among schools that are challenged to send exchange students to the U.S. and will identify organizations that financially sponsor students from Latin America to pursue degrees in the United States. Through both structured and creative financial support, increased mobility to bring Latin American students to the U.S. can be achieved.

Session 4c: Academic Innovation: International Mobility through Area Studies - Student Activity Center 2.120, Meeting Room

Chair: Dr. Nicole Guidotti-Hernández, Chair, Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies, College of Liberal Arts

Presenters: Dr. Michael Anderson, Director of International Relations & Global Studies, College of Liberal Arts; and Dr. Laura Gutierrez, Associate Professor, Department of Theatre and Dance, College of Fine Arts               

Description: In 2014, the UT Austin Mexican American and Latina/o Studies degree program was launched. The first degree program of its kind in the U.S., UT students can now pursue an array of rigorous degree programs designed to produce the most competitive Latina/o serving professionals in the nation. Join us to explore how innovative academic degrees and programming will impact the mobility of students to Latin America.

 5:00 - 7:00       Networking & Fundraising Event (benefiting Fund for Education Abroad)

Description: Join us after the conference for our Networking & Fundraising Event in the Legends Room at the University of Texas Alumni Center! We will have happy hour appetizers, a cash bar, silent auction, raffle, and bingo to raise money for the Fund for Education Abroad (FEA) Central Texas scholarship program.

Location: The Etter-Harbin Alumni Center is located across the street from the Darrell K Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium at 2110 San Jacinto Boulevard, Austin, TX 78712. Map here

Ticket Cost: $25.00

Buy tickets here!




Resources for Out-of-town Guests

Hotel Recommendations - We encourage you to make reservations as soon as possible, as UT Austin is hosting a football game on Saturday, September 26.

Dobie Dorm Hotel - a limited number of low-cost rooms are available in this dorm located next to campus for September 24 and/or 25.

Information on Visiting UT Austin

Parking Maps

Campus Maps


Symposium Coordinator

Margaret McCullers

Presenter Biographies

Joaquín Guerra Achem is the Director for International Affairs at Tecnológico de Monterrey (ITESM), where he coordinates the global vision agenda. His main activities are to assure the internationalization experience of ITESM’s students. In addition, Guerra manages more than 500 partnerships with universities in more than 50 countries. Guerra holds a master’s degree in computer engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Education with specialization in higher education leadership at Walden University. He has been a professor at ITESM since 1995 in the subjects of calculus, trigonometry, digital circuits, microprocessors, operative systems, digital computer design, electronic circuits and organizational strategy. His areas of interest are innovation, strategic planning and change, leadership, knowledge/technology transfer, information technology, and entrepreneurial education. From 2009 to 2013 Guerra was the director general at ITESM Campus Chihuahua. From 2000 to 2008 he was director general at ITESM Campus Aguascalientes. From 1995 to 2000 he was in charge of extension, consulting and continuing education services at ITESM Campus Laguna, Campus Saltillo and Campus Aguascalientes. Under his leadership, ITESM Campus Chihuahua received the “Great Place to Work” certification for 2012-2013 and was recognized for fostering women’s leadership positions. He has represented ITESM at numerous events, conferences, and boards such as University Industry Innovation Network, Triple Helix Association, the British Council, American Council on Education, European Consortium for Innovative Universities, NAFSA, EAIE, ECIU, Asia Pacific Rim Universities (APRU), Conference of the Council of Independent Colleges, ACE, International Higher Education Forum and APAIE.

Teri Albrecht is the executive director of the International Office and director of International Student & Scholar Services at The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin). Albrecht also holds a lecturer position and teaches a first-year signature course at UT Austin. Prior to joining UT Austin in 1999, Albrecht held positions at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas and Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Albrecht completed her Ph.D. in higher education administration at UT Austin where her dissertation research focused on the experiences of undocumented students in institutions of higher education. She received her bachelor’s degree in business administration and master’s degree in student affairs administration in higher education from Texas A&M University. Active in NAFSA, Albrecht has served in leadership positions, written articles for NAFSA’s flagship publication, International Educator, and is a recipient of NAFSA Region III’s Outstanding Service to International Education plaque. Albrecht has presented and published on a wide range of topics affecting international education.

Jennifer Attal Allen was born and raised in Austin, Texas. She pursued her undergraduate degree in communications with an international focus at UT Austin and holds a master’s degree in Spanish language & culture from the University of Salamanca in Spain. Allen has dedicated her professional life to the promotion of international education and has been in the field of education abroad for over 25 years. She founded Academic Programs International (API) in 1997 along with three other women and has served as the president of the organization ever since. Under her leadership, the number of API participants and sites available has grown each year, and API currently sends over 3,800 individuals abroad annually to more than 20 countries.

Michael R. Anderson directs the International Relations and Global Studies (IRG) undergraduate program at UT Austin, where he also serves as a lecturer in the College of Liberal Arts and the faculty director of the UT in Paris study-abroad program. His research interests include trans-Pacific intellectual networks and unofficial diplomacy in the twentieth century. The recipient of fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, Dr. Anderson earned his Ph.D. in History from the University of Texas at Austin in 2009. Dr. Anderson is the co-author of a textbook, The Political and Economic Foundations of Global Studies, forthcoming next year from Routledge.

Phuoc Bui is the financial aid and tax lead for the UT Austin International Office. Born and raised in Texas, he graduated from UT Austin with a degree in Social Work. Phuoc comes to the International Office from the UT Office of Financial Aid. His main areas of interest are college affordability and innovative aid programs for first-generation students.

Tina Fiet is the sponsored student advisor for the International Office at UT Austin. She works with over 60 sponsoring entities around the world and provides specialized support to this niche group of students. Born and raised in the Midwest, Fiet graduated from the American University of Paris and also spent time teaching with a faculty-led program in Mali, West Africa. She has over nine years of experience in international education, working in both study abroad and international student services.  

Patricia Gamboa is the director of sponsored student services at the UT Austin International Office. She previously managed the Pre-Academic Training Program for Undergraduate Panamanian students at the University of Arkansas and initiated agreements with Hispanic Serving Institutions to increase graduate student enrollment. Previously, she worked at the Higher Education Department in New Mexico and was appointed to the New Mexico Dual Credit Council aligning New Mexico’s high school competencies with college placement requirements. She also served as an adjunct faculty member with the School of Adult and General Education at Central New Mexico Community College. Other accomplishments include participation in the Legislative Fellows-Partners of the Americas Program in Mexico City, Mexico, the PhD Project, and the E. (Kika) de la Garza Fellowship sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She completed a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of New Mexico and a Master of Education in Higher Education from the University of Arkansas.

Nicole M. Guidotti-Hernández is associate professor of American studies and inaugural chair of the Department of Mexican American Studies and Latina/o Studies at UT Austin. She is an expert in Borderlands History after 1846, Transnational Feminist Methodologies, Chicano and Latino Studies, and Popular Culture, Children, and Immigration. Her book titled Unspeakable Violence: Remapping U.S. and Mexican National Imaginaries, Duke University Press (2011) won the MLA Prize in United States Latina and Latino and Chicana and Chicano Literary and Cultural Studies in 2013. It was also a finalist for the 2012 Berkshire Women’s History First Book Prize. She also wrote the interdisciplinary curriculum for the MALS Study Abroad program for "NAFTA, NARCOS, and Neoliberalism," scheduled for summer 2016.

Consul General Carlos González Gutiérrez was appointed by the President of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, and was ratified by the Senate, to act as Consul General of Mexico in Austin, Texas. Consul General Gonzalez has a bachelor’s degree in foreign relations from El Colegio de Mexico and a master’s degree in foreign relations as well from the University of Southern California. He has been a member of the Mexican Foreign Service since 1987 and has held the following posts in Mexico and abroad: Consul for community affairs at the Consulate General of Mexico in Los Angeles, California (1989-1995), director of community affairs of the Program for the Mexican Communities Abroad at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico (1995-1999), counselor for Latin affairs at the Embassy of Mexico in Washington, D. C. (1999-2003), executive director of the Institute for Mexicans Abroad (2003-2009), and consul general of Mexico in Sacramento, California. Consul General Gonzalez is the author of several publications about the relations between the government of Mexico and its community in the United States of America. He is married to Mrs. Alina Flores and has two daughters: Mariana and Camila.

Laura G. Gutiérrez is an associate professor in the Performance as Public Practice Program in the Department of Theatre and Dance and Associate Chair of the Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies at UT Austin. She also holds affiliate appointments in the Center for Mexican American Studies, the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, and the Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies. Gutiérrez will serve as director for the faculty-led summer program to Mexico City in the summer of 2016: NAFTA, Narcos, and Neoliberalism. Gutiérrez is a scholar of Latina American and Latina/o performance and visual culture studies and is the author of Performing Mexicanidad: Vendidas y Cabareteras on the Transnational Stage (U Texas P, 2010), which won The Ninth Annual MLA Prize in United States Latina and Latino and Chicana and Chicano Literary and Cultural Studies. She has also published essays and book chapters on topics such as Latina/o performance, border art, Mexican video art, and Mexican political cabaret.

Charles R. Hale is professor of anthropology at UT Austin and, since 2009, director of the university’s Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies (LLILAS). As of 2011, he directs LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections, a partnership between LLILAS and the world-renowned Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection. Professor Hale’s scholarly interests include identity politics, racism, neoliberalism, and resistance among indigenous peoples of Latin America. He is author of Resistance and Contradiction: Miskitu Indians and the Nicaraguan State, 1894-1987 (Stanford, 1994); co-editor (with Clara Arenas and Gustavo Palma) of Racismo en Guatemala?: Abriendo debate sobre un tema tabú (AVANCSO, 1999); co-editor (with Darío Euraque and Jeffrey Gould) of Memorias del mestizaje: Cultura política en Centroamérica, 1920 al presente (CIRMA, 2004); and author of “Más que un indio …” Racial Ambivalence and Neoliberal Multiculturalism in Guatemala (SAR, 2006), published in translation by AVANCSO (2007). Dr. Hale is also editor of the volume Engaging Contradictions: Theory, Politics, and Methods of Activist Scholarship (UC Press, 2008), and author of numerous articles in his areas of interest. He was president of the Latin American Studies Association from April 2006 through October 2007.

Lia Haisley is a senior academic advisor for the International Relations & Global Studies major in the College of Liberal Arts at UT Austin. Prior to her position in academic advising she worked for nine years at the UT Austin International Office, first as a study abroad advisor for Europe, the Middle East and Africa and later as a program coordinator for a number of UT initiatives focused on creating access and diversity in study abroad, including the Hutchison International Scholar Program. A native Austinite, she studied abroad at the University of Granada, Spain in 1997 and graduated with a degree in International Relations and Spanish from St. Edward’s University in 2001. 

Margaret (Maggie) Hug is the coordinator for the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Initiative of the Western Hemisphere Affairs Bureau at the U.S. Department of State. She is responsible for facilitating the implementation of the policies to advance the goals of the Presidential Initiative 100,000 Strong in the Americas, which aims to increase student mobility to and from the United States, Latin America, Canada, and the Caribbean to 100,000 students annually by 2020. She collaborates with U.S. Department of State, National Security Council, U.S. Embassies, NAFSA, and Partners of the Americas to develop, promote, and implement the programming of the initiative and of the Innovation Fund Network, including fundraising efforts with the private sector and outreach to universities throughout the United States and thirty-five countries in the WHA region. Hug has over 17 years of experience managing U.S. government-funded programs, Fulbright academic exchanges, international education programming, capacity building for educators, and institutional advancement. She was the deputy director of the Fulbright Commission in Mexico for eight years and has Fulbright management experience in 13 countries of the Western Hemisphere to evaluate, select, place, monitor, and train Fulbright participants. She also has teaching experience at the secondary, community college, and university levels and was a Fulbright Scholar to Mexico. She has designed and led numerous training workshops at Fulbright program events in the U.S. and other countries as well as at conferences such as TESOL, NAFSA, and HACU.

Monya Lemery is the associate director of study abroad in the International Office at UT Austin. She has pursued a career in international education and has served the field for 20 years. Lemery holds a master’s degree in international and intercultural management with a specialization in international education from the School for International Training and a bachelor’s degree in sociology/anthropology from Lewis & Clark College. Prior to joining UT Austin, Lemery served as the Latin America regional director for IE3 Global Internships Program (Oregon University System); the assistant director of the International Degree Program (Oregon State University); and program coordinator for the Barcelona, Spain program (Portland State University).

Margaret S. McCullers is the coordinator of curriculum integration for study abroad in the International Office at UT Austin. In this role she is responsible for managing curriculum integration projects with academic departments and foreign partners to increase access to study abroad. She also coordinates several initiatives designed to support underrepresented students such as scholarship programming for first-generation college students and partnerships with academic support programs. McCullers is a recipient of the 2014 Australian Endeavour Executive Fellowship. She is a member of the NAFSA Education Abroad Underrepresentation Subcommittee and served on the inaugural Diversity Abroad Conference Planning Committee. She previously worked at the University of Georgia coordinating international programming for honors scholars. McCullers holds a master’s degree in higher education leadership from UT Austin and bachelor’s degrees in international business and Spanish from the University of Georgia.

Meghan Merchant is a program coordinator in UT’s International Office and has worked in international education since 2008. She is the chair of the UT Austin Longhorn Dreamers Committee and implemented a training class to assist faculty and staff in advising undocumented students. She has presented on various undocumented student-related topics across the UT campus and at the NAFSA annual conference in 2014. Her goal is to see higher education become accessible to anyone with a desire to learn. Merchant was a Fulbright scholar to the United Kingdom, received a master’s degree in international communication from the University of Leeds, and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and international studies from Baylor University.

Deborah Palmer is an associate professor in bilingual/bicultural education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the UT Austin. She conducts qualitative research using ethnography and discourse analysis in linguistically diverse settings. Her interests include bilingual education policy and politics, critical additive bilingual education, teacher preparation for linguistically/culturally diverse teaching contexts, and bilingual teacher leadership. Dr. Palmer’s first experience with study abroad was in France as a high school student in 1987, and she’s traveled to Spain twice. However, since her first trip to Mexico in 1994, she has been drawn to Latin America. She has traveled, studied, and/or volunteered abroad in Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador, and Chile. Her first faculty-led program experience was leading a Maymester program in Cuernavaca, Mexico in 2007. Collaborating with colleagues, she is now leading a College of Education-sponsored twelve-week summer faculty-led program in Antigua, Guatemala.

Dan Siefken is a program coordinator in study abroad at the UT Austin International Office. He received a master’s degree in global and international sociology from the University of Edinburgh. Siefken has worked in study abroad, admissions and student life at both public and private higher education institutions, where he has a background in assisting undocumented and DACAmented students in their journey towards higher education and international experiences. Siefken currently serves on the UT Austin International Office Undocumented Student Working Group, which focuses on centralizing resources for students, faculty and staff in collaboration with the University Leadership Initiative, a student organization dedicated to serving the undocumented student population on campus.

Heather Thompson is the director of study abroad at the UT Austin International Office. She is responsible for the coordination and development of reciprocal exchanges, affiliations and a wide array of customized programs that span the 14 academic college and schools. She leads a team of 16 study abroad professionals responsible for student advising and academic collaboration. Thompson has a passion for technology and has dedicated years of work to developing customized technological systems to assist students with foreign course selection and administrative processes related to studying abroad and applying for scholarships. She is also actively involved in student emergency management alongside the University’s risk analyst. Thompson has been involved with education abroad since 1994. She has chaired the NAFSA Education Abroad Regulatory Practice Committee, been an active member of the Education Abroad Subcommittee on Financial Aid, including participating in the HEA Reauthorization Task Force in 2009 and the NAFSA Communication Task Force in 2006. She has two children, one dog, five cats, a donkey and a wonderful husband that all reside just outside of Austin’s city limits in Bastrop County.



CIEE: Council on International Educational Exchange

API: Academic Programs International

IFSA-Butler: Institute for Study Abroad, Butler University

IES Abroad: Institute for the International Education of Students

AIFS - American Institute for Foreign Study

IFE - French Field Study and Internship Programs (Paris - Strasbourg - Brussels) 



Session 2: June Gunaratne

Session 2: Lozano

Session 3a

Session 3b: Spain vs Latin America

Session 4a

Session 4b

Session 4c: Academic Innovation