Staff Spotlight: Jennifer DeKnight

Programs Coordinator


Jennifer has been working in international education since graduating from Davidson College in 2010, where she studied abroad in Peru and Jordan. She worked for a year as a college counselor in Greece, then moved to Washington, DC to work at AMIDEAST. She is now a Programs Coordinator at CET for programs in Brazil, Italy, Jordan and Tunisia.

Did YOU study abroad?! If so, where and what inspired you to go?

Jennifer: I was always interested in studying abroad, and decided to go to Davidson in large part because of the emphasis on international experiences. I spent a semester in Arequipa, Peru on a Davidson program that focused on Spanish, History and offered internship opportunities. I was mostly intrigued by the Peru program because it was off the beaten path - I hadn't even heard of Arequipa until I applied!

After seeing how my Spanish skills increased exponentially on the program, I became inspired to start a new and completely different language. When I returned to campus, I started taking Arabic in addition to Spanish, and later spent a summer in Amman, Jordan doing an intensive Arabic program.

This was another non traditional study abroad location where I could really focus on language acquisition, which was my goal. I'm very grateful for my study abroad experiences at Davidson!

What position do you hold at CET? What has been your career path so far?

Jennifer: I am the Programs Coordinator for CET's programs in Brazil, Italy, Jordan and Tunisia. While these countries seem like an odd mix, they fit my interests perfectly. I have studied abroad in South America and the Middle East, and worked in Southern Europe. Each region is of particular interest to me, and it is exciting to come to work every day to help students study in places that are also exciting to me.

I came to CET after working as a college counselor at a high school in Thessaloniki, Greece, where I advised students interested in studying the US. Wanting to continue my work in international education, I returned to the US to work for the international education and development non-profit, AMIDEAST, managing contracts.

During my time working there, I was inspired by the incredible education and development programs that the organization provided, but I missed working directly with students. The desire to interact with students on a daily basis and to help personally contribute to their international journeys is what brought me to CET. I look forward to continuing to grow in my career in international education working at CET.

What was your favorite traveling experience?

Jennifer: My favorite travel experience was when I spent two weeks in Lebanon on vacation in 2013. I went by myself, and was lucky enough to have friends put me in touch with various people that they knew living in Lebanon at the time.

It was my first time traveling extensively on my own, and it was an incredible experience. I loved being able to travel at my own pace and see the country on my terms. It was empowering to know that I could navigate an entirely new place on my own.

Going to Lebanon alone was also a way to get to see a new country as a local - I connected with friends of friends who welcomed me to Lebanon and took me to their favorite places, restaurants and towns.

Instead of seeing the country with whoever I might have been traveling with, or whoever I met at a hostel, I was able to make new friends that actually lived there and were excited to share their country with me. Apart from that, Lebanon is an amazing country and I enjoyed every place I visited!

Describe a time when you felt especially proud to be part of the CET team.

Jennifer: Working in study abroad, I often reflect on my own experiences as a student. I think about ways that I could have gained more academically and personally while studying abroad. I am often amazed at the maturity and dedication of the students I work with when I hear about ways they go above and beyond to maximize their language learning and cultural immersion.

This summer, we had multiple students who opted to sign a full language pledge for their term in Jordan when their program only required a part-time language pledge. Other students decided to fast during Ramadan in solidarity with their Muslim roommates and language partners in Tunisia.

When hearing about the students taking advantage of their short time abroad during the summer, and really challenging themselves, I was especially proud to be a part of the CET team.

Without our incredible staff overseas, students would not have felt empowered or comfortable taking on such challenges. It is inspiring to hear about students really thriving on our programs, and I am proud to be a small part of the team that makes these opportunities possible.