Staff Spotlight: Carrie Straub

Program Director
Carrie’s passion of international education and language learning began during her university studies and has now become a way of life for her. As the year-round Program Director at SPI Study Abroad and Head On-site Director for SPI’s Biarritz program during the summer, Carrie helps guide families and students through the excitement and challenges of an international experience abroad. Her goal is that all students will have the opportunity to study abroad during their high school career.

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What position do you hold at SPI Study Abroad? What has been your career path so far?

Carrie: As the Program Director here at SPI Study Abroad, I get the privilege of working with parents and high school students as they make the life-changing decision to study abroad.

During the summertime, I also serve as the Head On-site Director for SPI’s immersion programs in Biarritz, France. It is an amazing journey to help families through the entire process – from program selection to the students’ experience abroad.

My degree is in International Studies and Spanish, and my love of cultures, languages, and travel was solidified after my initial study abroad experience in southern Spain.

After working in the finance industry for many years, I felt a strong pull to return to my passion for international education. I am really grateful for the opportunity to share my passion with the next generation of global citizens.

Why is language learning and cultural immersion important to you?

Carrie: Immersion programs help students develop the necessary life skills to be successful as they navigate through their education and into adulthood. Additionally and equally as important, students are exposed to other ways of life and points of view that broaden their understanding of the world and their place in it.

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We have a saying at SPI: “Learn another language, know another world.” The skills gained during an experience abroad -- communication, understanding, and empathy-- are essential in resolving the challenges facing our world as we become increasingly interconnected and interdependent.

We have a responsibility to ensure that our upcoming generations have learned these skills and have them at their disposable.

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

Carrie: As a student at the University of Nebraska, I studied abroad in Granada, Spain for a school year. At the time, I thought going to Spain sounded like an adventure and that was my main motivating factor (the college credits were cool as well!). Granada quickly became a second home to me, and I still feel that way when I return to visit.

Those nine months in Spain changed my life, both professionally and personally, in so many ways. As I look back, my only regret is that I didn’t study abroad sooner, which is why I am now involved in study abroad for high school students!

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Describe a time when you felt especially proud to be part of the SPI Study Abroad team.

Carrie: Each summer the most difficult and rewarding day for me as a part of the SPI team is the very last day of the program when the students are about to board a plane to return home to their family and friends. Many of them will express their sincere appreciation for your guidance, friendship, and support during one of the most amazing and challenging experiences of their life. It is a moving gesture that gets me every time!