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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sara Brackin to lead UNCP’s Office of International Programs

Sara Brackin was invested in the internationalization of UNC Pembroke before there was an Office of International Programs. Beginning in August, she will lead that office.

Brackin and former interim Chancellor Charles Jenkins atthe Big Goose Pagoda in Xi’an, China.

Brackin and former interim Chancellor Charles Jenkins atthe Big Goose Pagoda in Xi’an, China.

Black Line

In 2008, after 14 year at UNCP—eight of them as the university registrar, Brackin was made director of International Programs. In her new capacity, she will be responsible for all programs including study abroad, the English Language Institute, the Global Leadership Initiative, the Asia Programs and student services for international faculty and students at UNCP.

Shortly after her appointment this summer, Brackin discussed International Programs at UNCP in the new academic year. The first priority is to expand collaboration between partner universities around the world and attract more quality students to study at UNCP. International students add to an increasingly rich and diverse campus life.

“One of our strengths is our Asian partnership with other universities,” Brackin said. “These partnerships, which bring the majority of the program (degree-seeking) students to UNCP, have been very successful.”

About half of the program’s students are on honor rolls, and they have a retention and graduation rate greater than 90 percent. Five program students have returned to UNCP for graduate study.

Since 2005 the majority of International Program students came to UNCP via the Chinese Center for International Education Exchange/Association of American State Colleges and Universities (CCIEE/AASCU). Of the 91 Chinese students who came through UNCP’s partnership with CCIEE, 44 have graduated, 16 are in their fourth and final year studying in China and 25 are studying UNCP.

“This is a good program for many reasons. We are adding to the diversity on our campus and increasing our international alumni,” Brackin said.

Besides welcoming in new international students this summer, Brackin and the Global Leadership Initiative will bring five visiting faculty members to campus for the fall semester.

“The Global Leadership Initiative is a structured program involving research and English-language training. It also increases understanding and communication,” she said. “It is very competitive to gain admittance, and when the scholars return home, we have ambassadors abroad.”

Helping students improve their English language proficiency and prepare them for academics is the mission of the English Language Institute.

“International students may have studied English for many years, but they are not always proficient in their communication skills,” Brackin said. “Once the students have demonstrated the required English proficiency, they can transition into the full-time academic study in their chosen majors.”
           
The other side of the coin is study abroad programs for UNCP students, and there are several options. “I’m proud that I sent the first four UNCP students to study abroad at Växjo University in Sweden,” Brackin said. “It was a life-changing experience for them, and study abroad continues to be a life-changing experience for our students.”

 “One of the key goals for next year is recruiting more faculty to lead short-term study-abroad experiences.”We want to develop more opportunities to incorporate academics into the global arena.”

Recent examples of these successful for-credit, short-term programs include study abroad by biology department faculty in Costa Rica and reefs off Bermuda. The Department of Art has short-term programs to Paris and is now developing one to London. For 2012, faculty-led study-abroad experiences are planned to Germany, London, Italy, South Korea and Bermuda.

“Students believe they can’t afford these adventures, but we have some programs that are subsidized, and we have scholarships available,” Brackin said.

The new head of International Programs will begin recruiting with the new academic year. On September 21 there will be a passport fair and study abroad information tables, including representatives from the UNC Exchange Program, in the University Center from 9:30 a.m. to  2 p.m. Representatives from the U.S. State Department will assist students and the general public in obtaining passports.

The passport fair is one more way the Office of International Programs is making study abroad easier for UNCP students. For information about the office, contact them at 910.775.4095 or ip@uncp.edu. The website is www.uncp.edu/ip/.

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