What is your favorite travel memory?
My favorite travel memory is of a woman I stayed with during a backpacking trip in Australia. She lived in a self-sustaining home in a tiny bohemian town called 1770, and in exchange for some extra hands scrubbing a bottle wall clean (the wall was made entirely of old tires, concrete, and multi-colored glass bottles…it was beautiful!), she gave me a bed for a week. I learned so much from her. She was active in environmental and social movements in Australia, had the best dog ever, and absolutely radiated life-giving energy. Her grace made me realize what it really means to be a global citizen, even while we're in our own homes.
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
I was lucky to join CYA’s team straight out of college. I came into the role with passion based on my own international experiences and a desire to help students overcome any obstacles standing in the way of a valuable experience abroad. While that energy hasn’t diminished over the course of my time at CYA, I’ve channeled it differently as I’ve gained a more mature understanding of both the challenges and benefits of studying abroad. I’ve grown more patient with bureaucracy, as there are many boxes that must be checked to ensure a smooth study abroad experience. Through conversations with concerned parents, I’ve become more articulate and informed about global issues and their impact on students in the US and in Greece. I’m also constantly learning from my mentors at CYA and across the field; it’s a very collaborative field, and it’s so humbling to tap into the collective wisdom!
What is the best story you've heard from a return student?
I met an alum who was inspired by his time at CYA to become an archaeologist, and a few years after graduating he returned to Greece to do field work in Mycenae. While taking measurements near a riverbed, he saw a particularly smooth stone and joked, “Look, it’s the throne of Agamemnon!” (Mycenae is the seat of the mythical King Agamemnon, and as an archaeology student the alum was familiar with the myths and landscape of Ancient Greece.) He took a closer look and stopped laughing; there were grooves in the rock that actually looked like the seat of a stone chair. Fast forward a couple years, after careful analysis and lots of hushed research, and now “Archaeologist discovers the lost throne” fills the first three pages of a Google search for “throne of Agamemnon.” To a non-archaeologist like myself, that’s enough proof of a pretty awesome story!
What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?
To start, CYA pioneered study abroad in Greece 55 years ago. We are built on over five decades of pure dedication to student academic and personal growth. Our deep roots in Athens, along with our world-class professors, give our students the chance to get behind the scenes in the city’s ancient and contemporary treasures--think presenting a paper inside the Parthenon or talking with leading Greek politicians at the Parliament! Our curriculum also places a huge emphasis on hands-on engagement. Academically, this takes the shape of onsite classes and study-travel, and out of class we help students arrange any type of extracurricular opportunity they can imagine. I’m proud every day to be part of a team that is so committed to making sure each individual student is maximally benefiting from their experience, from the moment they apply to long after they graduate.
What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?
I don’t think anyone at my stage in their career is at all qualified to answer this huge question, but I’ll do my best! I believe the biggest factor in being successful is being open to change. Nothing is stagnant for even a second, and to be able to adapt while maintaining the core of your values and mission seems essential. Being open to change makes you resilient, and beyond that I think a company that embraces change, a company that is excited by growth, is a company that will challenge itself and its competitors to raise the bar consistently. It has been amazing to see CYA reflect this definition of success with a constantly expanding curriculum and courses that take students to the heart of current global conversations.