Tell us about yourself, Leanne.
I was born in Maryland and raised in Nevada, I’ve enjoyed living on both coasts of the US, as well as in France, Ireland, and Chicago. I graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a Bachelor’s degree in French and English Literature and a minor in Women’s Studies, and I love writing, history, and hiking in the Sierra Nevadas. I have studied abroad in Pau, Galway, and Cork.
What is your favorite travel memory?
One of my favorite travel memories is of performing in the Galway Arts Festival Macnas Parade in Galway, Ireland along with my fellow theater students and enthusiastic local Galwegians.
We rehearsed for weeks in the buildup to the grand event. On the day of, we spent hours getting into makeup and costumes, then walked through the streets of Galway performing for locals before the parade began.
One of the best moments was during the parade: I looked into the crowd and saw Irish actor Cillian Murphy with his son on his shoulders, enjoying our performance. It was surreal.
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
I’ve learned so much since my first day at USAC, but I think one of my most significant areas of growth is in confidence. Despite the strides I’d made studying abroad in France, I came to USAC as a shy Peer Advisor, ready to share my experience with fellow students but still a bit nervous and unsure.
Since then, all that I’ve been trained and trusted to accomplish along with the patience and support of the organization have made me decisive and unafraid. USAC has proven to me that I’m capable of great things.
What is the best story you've heard from a return student?
Some of my favorite stories from abroad are love stories — romance that blossomed on a USAC program. We actually did a blog post at the USAC blog on that topic for Valentine’s Day 2017. The stories and photos are total tearjerkers — in a good way!
If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?
This is like picking a favorite book or movie – so many good ones, so little time! But still, if I were forced to choose, I could see myself going to Chengdu, China.
I advised for China for a while, and I was fortunate enough to get to visit the program site. A week and a half there convinced me that I was ready for the beauty and challenge of life in China. The language, the food, the people, the courses — everything about the program seems like an exciting adventure. Plus, it was completely different from the European places I’d studied before. Sign me up!
What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?
USAC is special because we really do put the concerns of the student first. We’re a not-for-profit; we choose non-traditional locations with more cultural immersion in mind; we have a “USAC family” of experienced, caring on-site staff on each of our specialty programs.
I was especially proud of my department last year when we processed nearly 750 visa applications at no additional cost to our students. It might sound like a small detail, but the pre-departure stressors like visas can be one of the lowest points of the study abroad process. Making every little thing better for our students is one of our proudest accomplishments.
What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?
The heart! I think no matter how great the business practice, if your core ideals aren’t built on solid foundations of integrity, truth, and good intentions, you’re sabotaging your idea from the start. Stay true to those beliefs and you can’t go wrong.