New program connects international alumni and study abroad students

A new initiative started this year aims to create a better study abroad experience for students, and to provide resources for alumni in Europe.

The European Alumni Network, as well as its connected International Student Ambassador program, bring together several regional networks already in existence abroad.

Belton Flournoy, the regional lead for the network in the United Kingdom and a 2003 graduate of the College of Business Administration, said the main goal of the network is to foster community among those connected to Marquette.

“The EAN re-connects alumni who might have lost contact with Marquette during the move to Europe,” Flournoy said.  “As the world is becoming more global, so is Marquette. It is important to develop a strong European alumni program to support our growth worldwide.”

The idea was spearheaded by Flournoy and Kelly Kliebhan, a 1999 graduate of the College of Arts & Sciences and the regional lead for France. The network covers students studying in any European country.

“We create a support network for many students who will be away from their family and friends for the first time,” Flournoy said. “We have an informal mentorship program in some of the cities and host welcome events for students who are studying abroad.”

The London chapter of the EAN also includes the International Student Ambassador program. This program, developed as part of the EAN initiative, will allow one student to serve as a liaison between alumni and current Marquette students in Europe.

Current Student Ambassador Natasha Sahr, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, said the position has improved her study abroad experience.

“Thus far, this experience has been wonderful,” Sahr said. “It’s extremely heart-warming to know I am not alone in such a large city. Living in Central London has brought difficulties. However, I felt welcomed.”

Martha Moore, the senior alumni engagement officer at Marquette, said European alumni are excited about the possibilities they can provide working with students.

“The alumni base in Europe hopes that the right student could help build excitement and participation among current students studying in London, and for the Marquette events going on in Europe during the semester,” Moore said.

The program also gives students studying abroad a chance to work on other skills besides academics while they are overseas.

“We hope to provide the ambassador with the opportunity to hold a leadership position, which will help with their project management, public speaking and coordination skills,” Flournoy said. “Additionally, they will help reach out to fellow students prior to leaving campus and once on the group here.”

The International Student Ambassador program, as well as the European Alumni Network, will be celebrated with an event for alumni and study abroad students Thursday, Oct. 20.