As the Director of Global Learning at Washington State University, Dr. Kelly Newlon oversees education abroad opportunities as well as the Global Leadership Certificate. Kelly has more than 22 years of experience in higher education administration and has led over 20 education abroad programs and taught leadership and global competency coursework for both students and faculty. Her professional background includes Undergraduate Admissions and First Year Experience, student development and education abroad (past 14 years). Kelly earned all three of her degrees at The Ohio State University, including her doctorate in Agricultural Education with a specialization in international development and with her research focusing on the impact of short-term education abroad experiences on the cultural competencies of students. As a student, she studied abroad in Prague, Czech Republic, but has led study abroad programs on all seven continents (42 countries), specializing in agriculture and natural resources-based programs.
Kelly’s spare time has been spent finishing her doctorate, but she is exploring new hobbies such as tap dance, embroidery, getting lost on YouTube (Weird History) and driving around the Palouse with a good cup of coffee in hand. Kelly loves being “Crazy Aunt Kelly” to her five nieces and two nephews. In the past, she was licensed in three hobbies: private pilot, SCUBA and pyrotechnics.
What advice would you give students preparing to go abroad?
Explore your destination through both a historic and a current affairs lens. Look up news feeds and look up what expats are saying about living there. It will help put you in the mindset of being there.
What advice would you give students returning from abroad?
Don’t leave your story behind as an Instagram post, keep learning from it. I studied abroad as an undergraduate 25 years ago and I’m still realizing things I learned during that experience.
What advice would you give students engaging globally from home?
I have done the research and know that the more you know before traveling, the more you will learn while traveling abroad. If you see something that piques your curiosity, but don’t know why it is the way it is, you may accidently attribute what you saw as happening for a reason that isn’t accurate. Take the time you have before you travel to become an expert thinker and traveler.
What is one of the most important lessons you learned abroad?
Never judge a person or situation without also asking “why”. Too often, we jump to judgement of a situation as being positive or negative without being curious about why or how things became the way they are.
What is your favorite part about working in international education?
I love working in international education. I learn something new every day, whether it be from our Global Cougs or a partner abroad. I get to help students develop the way they think, at a core level. That work will then spread to others and that ultimately helps make the world a better place for everyone.