What It's Like to Recruit Abroad
Whenever I tell people how often I travel, they immediately think that I am the member of a cabin crew for a global airline. While I may maintain a similar sleep regimen to that of a flight attendant (and could almost certainly give the safety demonstration for a Boeing 777 in my sleep), I probably don’t get nearly as much downtime in between flights. During my busiest travel season, I have covered somewhere around 30 cities/towns, in 18 countries, spanning about 7 time zones, across 2 continents, covering well over 44,000 miles . . . in less than 52 days.
Years before I joined the Barnard community, I dreamed of serving my country as a member of the Foreign Service in the State Department. I had become familiar with civilian diplomacy during my year as a Fulbright Scholar in Mexico City. But somewhere along the way, I eventually realized this dream job might not be the right fit for me. However, I was still enamored with the idea of engaging with foreign countries on the premises of mutual understanding and cultural exchange. As my views on international relations shifted and developed, I began to explore different avenues to pursue this work. This was right around the time that I landed my first job in undergraduate admissions.
While my first territory assignments were within the continental US, I became fascinated by the work that went into recruiting talented students from other countries. It was then that I really reflected back on the students I had met during my college experience that had been educated abroad. Many of them introduced me to something new: a language, a culture, a food dish, or a way of thinking. These encounters and friendships fed my curiosity in some of the most formative years of my young life. My reflections made me realize that I could combine what I was already doing in admissions to what I had always wanted to pursue in international affairs.
As a representative of a US institution, I am first and foremost a representative of education in the US. More specifically, I promote the liberal arts method of education, which until recently, was an exclusively American concept. The concept of educating the mind (and body) across academic disciplines demonstrates the interdisciplinary nature of knowledge and the interconnectedness of the world. I believe this type of education embraces the 21st century and is one of the best preparations for the rapidly-changing job market. At Barnard, there is the added layer of an environment that embraces womanhood and the endless experiences that define and transform it. Even more, the institution recognizes the benefits of elevating women into the leadership roles they seek and deserve. This seems particularly necessary at a time when we have been reminded of the silencing consequences of the patriarchal systems still present all over the world today.
As Coordinator of International Recruitment at Barnard College, I have explored corners of the Earth I probably never would have visited elsewise. It is a privilege to introduce young women to the life-changing community that I have called home for the last three years. Though Barnard is a small institution, its diversity of talent, thought, and culture make it worthy of having the biggest and farthest global reach that it can. At a time when the United States is having trouble embracing its foundation as a nation of immigrants (long before F1 visas were a thing), I find my work especially important.
I have been fascinated and humbled by a consistent theme throughout all of my recruitment travels: no matter the language, the country, or the culture, students are drawn to Barnard because they crave the opportunity to find solutions to challenges. As an institution founded for the “other” in education, Barnard continues to attract the best and brightest students who may not always fit the traditional mold of what their society expects, or has expected, them to be. Barnard students listen, think, speak, collaborate, act, and effectuate change. Barnard students change the narrative.
Just a couple weeks back, I attended the 2018 International Student Welcome Dinner, where I saw all of our international recruitment efforts come to fruition in one room. The Class of 2022 boasts the most selective group of women in the college’s history, hailing from 31 countries. As I looked around the room, I saw students I had met on school visits, I had chatted with in interviews, or I had communicated with virtually via lengthy email exchanges. Hours of flying, taxi rides, legitimate sleepless nights, and, of course, months of application reading and committee deliberations led to this evening. My colleagues and I know that these students bring distinct interests, passions, and dreams into one powerhouse of an institution, all with equally great levels of enthusiasm. We know that in a couple of months, we will see their confidence and agency grow after just one semester at a women’s college. We know that because of them, the Barnard experience for their “domestic” peers will be challenged, changed, and will undoubtedly be enriched.
Senior Admissions Officer & Coordinator of International Recruitment