Staff Spotlight: Rachael Bittick

Student Advisor & Ambassador Program Coordinator


Rachael Bittick joined the CYA North American team in May 2021. After graduating from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology, she dove head first into exploring Student Affairs within the field of Higher Education. As an enthusiastic and passionate Fall 2017 alumna, she proudly represented CYA as a Campus Representative during our Fall 2019 fair season. She is thrilled to be back in the CYA family and is looking forward to working with students as they prepare to embark on their study abroad adventure!

What is your favorite travel memory?

My favorite travel memory is the last day I was in Athens, after spending a fall semester at CYA. I was saying my goodbyes to the local cafe owners, when I found myself deep in a conversation about what I most loved and admired about Greek culture. I emphasized how much I appreciate the way Greeks tend not to fear living life to the fullest. As rain poured down the slick marble sidewalks, and clouds loomed above, Dimitri responded, "We Greeks do not fear life because we do not fear death." It was a very cathartic way of wrapping up my CYA experience and it's a thought I've carried with me ever since.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

Since I first began working for CYA in the fall of 2019, I have grown much more confident in my skills as an independent traveler. I have become very comfortable with planning travel itineraries, traveling on my own, and problem-solving in challenging travel-based situations. I have also learned a lot about communication and teamwork within the world of international education, which continues to help me grow as a Student Advisor.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

The best story I've heard from a returning student is based on the remark of a student who attended our program in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. She reported that the very first day the Acropolis reopened, she and her friends were able to visit the site almost completely by themselves, without the presence of tourists. In a reflection, she wrote, "While COVID-19 took a lot of things away from our semester, it also allowed us to see Athens in a more special and personal way." It brings me joy to know that even when faced with the hardest of obstacles, this student was still extremely impacted by the city of Athens and the experiences she had during her time with CYA.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

I would choose the full Academic Year program so that I could explore Greece in the fall and spring seasons, and so that I would have a full 8-9 months to experience everything Greece has to offer! Having spent a fall semester in Greece, I wish I could have stayed another 4 or 5 months so that I could also take part in several of the national Greek holidays that take place during the spring semester. You can pack A LOT into one semester with CYA and if I could attend one of our programs again, I would opt to attend the full Academic Year so as to immerse myself even further into Greek culture!

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

What makes CYA unique is its incredibly dedicated and passionate staff and faculty. Not only did CYA manage to stay open in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, but they also worked tirelessly to continue educating not only students, but those among their social media following as well. This team really cares about providing students with quality, meaningful education and an international experience filled with exploration and growth.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

I believe communication and empathy are the biggest factors that contribute to being a successful company. Everyone communicates differently and being able not only to listen, perceive, and relate empathetically, but also to adapt to others' styles of communicating, is vital in a field that promotes cultural immersion and diversity. This sense of adaptable and empathetic communication is conducive to a positive, productive work environment, as well as the foundation of good relationships with the institutions and students with whom we collaborate.