ClearCause Foundation aims to promote safer travels for students abroad

Karli Webster, associate director of study abroad operations, helps coordinate the study abroad program and works to ensure student safety. Photo by Mike Carpenter/

Marquette works to prepare students to be safe while studying abroad, and working with the ClearCause Foundation could be another way to increase that preparedness.

ClearCause, a nonprofit organization that promotes student safety while studying abroad, was founded in 2010 by Sheryl Hill after her son died a preventable death while abroad in Japan. Her mission was to empower students abroad with the necessary resources and information to stay safe while living in a new country.

“Policy is not up to date with globalization,” Hill said. “Policy won’t always be able to protect you when you’re abroad, neither will your university. You have to protect yourself, and education is the best way to do that.”

The organization aims to prevent incidents that put students at risk with Safe Journey, a new program currently in development to offer an independent form of safety training. The Clear Cause website outlines Safe Journey with modules that include an action plan, health and wellness, and communications that students go through.

“Our vision is that every youth and student will come home with a rewarding experience in an industry held to the highest standards,” Hill said. “That’s why Safe Journey Academy must exist to teach young people how to identify and mitigate risk.”

ClearCause is designed to fill in the gaps of information that universities fail to provide. While Marquette provides safety training and culture introductions, ClearCause provides comprehensive training and more information for students going abroad.

Karli Webster, associate director of study abroad operations, helps coordinate the study abroad program and works to ensure student safety.

“My job is making the students safe, and making sure things go smoothly,” Webster said. “I would consider working with Clear Cause if I researched it more. I hadn’t heard of it until now.”

There is currently an in-depth process preparing students for a study abroad program. Students are required to attend safety meetings on preventing incidents like sexual assault or robbery as well as introductions into different cultural aspects.

“We also keep up with conditions and travel alerts in other countries,” Webster said. “I have two reports I check daily about events around the world.”

Students are also prepared for the trip. Brock Price, a study abroad coordinator, advises students on pre-departure, making sure they have the skills and tools needed to navigate another country and culture.

“We even have students meet with other students who have been in their program and alum that have studied abroad in the same countries,” Price said.

Two separate incidents occurred involving Marquette students studying abroad. Andrew Keith Carr died after slipping off a bridge while abroad in Italy in 2013 and Jen Waters, a senior in the College of Business Administration, suffered a serious brain injury while she was abroad in Madrid in 2014.