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A world of possibilities; international education coordinator brings enthusiasm, experience to her new role

Like many Austin Peay State University students, Tina Tarpy, an August 2006 graduate of Austin Peay State University, grew up in a small, rural community in Tennessee.

APSU not only offered her a tranquil environmentmuch like that of her hometownbut the University also provided exposure to international cultures and educational experiences.
Like many Austin Peay State University students, Tina Tarpy, an August 2006 graduate of Austin Peay State University, grew up in a small, rural community in Tennessee.

APSU not only offered her a tranquil environmentmuch like that of her hometownbut the University also provided exposure to international cultures and educational experiences.

Recently named the coordinator of international education for APSU, Tarpy admits she never had traveled outside the U.S. until, at APSU, she was encouraged to participate in the Study Abroad in Mexico program. This experience opened the door to other opportunities to learn more about the world outside of Tennessee.

Soon after, she changed her major to Spanish, was elected president of Pi Nu Spanish honor society, became involved in planning the opening of the state's only collegiate Hispanic Cultural Center and participated in her second study-abroad programto Spain.

“My eyes were opened,” she says. “I realized I had options, and that life was full of possibilities.”

It's her exuberance and enthusiasm about her international experiences, coupled with her intelligence, communication skills and understanding of the Austin Peay student body, that make Tarpy a powerful advocate for international education.

“I understand the questions that students have about study-abroad programs, because I once had the same questions,” she says.

Without doubt, international educational experiences dipped following 9/11, but they are on the rebound. The 2006 Open Doors Report on International Education Exchange, a project of the Institute of International Education, says the number of U.S. students who studied abroad for academic credit increased by 155 percent in a decadeand by 43 percent in the past five years.

Tarpy, who works out of the Office of Academic Affairs, Browning Building, says her position was designed to be the hub of all international education efforts on campusto help unite international supporters and increase the amount of international experiences available to students, faculty and staff.

She's already begun meeting with faculty who lead study-abroad programs as well as faculty who are interested in developing study-abroad programs.

“Austin Peay is blessed to have such an experienced, dedicated group of faculty committed to providing international opportunities to students,” she says.

“My new position also offers administrative support for faculty and students to ensure a high level of security, productivity and uncompromised integrity for all study-abroad programs. By uniting our efforts, we can develop a stronger, more cohesive international education program.”

Besides working with APSU's study-abroad faculty, she wants to be the resource person for Austin Peay's international student population and offer support for the International Student Organization's effort to reach out to international students.

“If an international student has a problem and is unsure how to resolve it, I will be the person to whom they can turn for help. Also, if they are interested in becoming involved in campus activities, I can help guide them in the right direction,” she says.

Currently, APSU has students from Somalia, Trinidad and Tobago, Dominican Republic, Panama, Mexico, Sudan, India, Canada, France, Jamaica, Brazil, Germany, Zimbabwe, South Korea, China, Saint Lucia, Russia, Bulgaria, Kuwait, Colombia, United Kingdom, Nigeria, Cameroon, Lithuania, El Salvador, Japan, Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, Poland, Argentina, Barbados and Egypt. The largest contingents are the 10 from South Korea, nine from Canada, eight from Germany and six from Mexico.

“We want to offer a supportive environment to our international studentswhich will provide them with a great experience that they will want to share with their friends,” she says. “This will help us in our international recruitment efforts.

“International students add great dimension to the University, and we can enhance their presence by offering them support and encouragement.”

Tarpy hopes to expand the number of study-abroad programs offered by APSU by promoting Fulbright scholarships and other opportunities for faculty development. These programs are designed to offer international experiences to faculty in hopes of generating interest in international education and study-abroad programs, as well as helping to integrate international concepts and ideas into the curriculum.

Although Tarpy has been in this newly created position only three months, she's already begun putting together the many aspects of Austin Peay's international education and study-abroad programs, and she is working closely with each faculty member involved in the international education experience.

With her usual can-do attitude, Tarpy says, “I look forward to creating opportunities for other students in international educationopportunities that truly can change their lives.”

For more information about Austin Peay's international education and study-abroad programs, contact Tarpy by telephone at (931) 221-6851 or by e-mail at tarpyt@apsu.edu. -- Dennie B. Burke

APSU's current study-abroad programs are
Mid-Sweden University
Type of program: Exchange
Country: Sweden
Program coordinator: Inga Filippo
Orleans University
Type of program: Exchange
Country: France
Program coordinator: Dr. Culley Carson-Grefe
Spanish Study Abroad-Spain
Type of program: Summer study abroad
Country: Spain
Program coordinator: Dr. Miguel Ruiz-Avilés
Learn German in Austria
Type of program: Summer term study abroad
Country: Austria
Program coordinator: Dr. Norbert Puzkar
Study Abroad-Quebec
Type of program: Summer study abroad
Country: Quebec
Program coordinator: Dr. Karen Sorenson in association with the Mid-Continent Consortium
Study Abroad in Germany and France
Type of program: Summer study abroad
Country: Germany and France
Program coordinator: Dr. Dewey A. Browder
Study Abroad in Greece
Type of program: Summer study abroad
Country: Greece
Program coordinator: Dr. Timothy Winters
Cooperative Center for Study Abroad (CSA)
Type of program: Varied, typically short-term study abroad and internships
Country: Australia, Belize, Canada, Ghana, Ireland, Jamaica, London, Scotland, India, Hong Kong
Program coordinator: Dr. Joe Filippo in association with the CSA.