Nov. 20, 2023

Where did Global Learning take them?

UCalgary alumni reflect on the impact of Global Learning on their personal, academic, and professional growth

Studying abroad offers innumerable invaluable benefits that extend beyond the realm of academic learning. According to a recent employer survey, skills such as adaptability, coping with uncertainty, fostering inclusiveness, self-confidence, grit, and empathy are all closely linked with top employability outcomes and considered essential to meet the demands of future work globally.

All of these are known effects of global learning participation. Additionally, the opportunity to build international networks and connections nurtures a global mindset and enhances career prospects, giving students a competitive edge in an increasingly globalized job market.

“I can trace my own career path directly back to my global learning experiences in university,” says Colleen Packer, director, global learning.

“One of the biggest rewards of the work that I do is seeing the impact that studying abroad has on students, not only short-term but long term as well. It’s such a transformative experience for our students, allowing them to gain global perspectives and enhance their academic, personal, and professional growth. Students return from their international experiences equipped with valuable skills, a broader worldview, and a newfound passion for learning that transcends borders.” 


Leah Madelaine Schmidt, BA'17 (Women's Studies), BA'17 (International Relations)

Leah Madelaine Schmidt, BA'17 (Women's Studies), BA'17 (International Relations), recently shared her insights on the pivotal role that global learning played in shaping her professional trajectory.

“I currently work in international affairs for the Canadian government, and I would not have found my current career (which I love!) without my study abroad experiences at the University of Calgary. Studying abroad is where I discovered my personal and professional passion for international work and cultural exchange.

“Without the opportunity to explore international study with the support of the university community behind me, I'm not sure I would have ever had the chance to travel as widely and educationally as I was able to through Study Abroad programs.”

Schmidt, an Arch Award recipient, adds: “Travel is a valuable forum for reinstalling joy in the learning experience, and reconnecting theory to practice. This was especially valuable to me at the end of my degree, when I was considering whether I had the energy and academic drive to go to graduate school, and international travel was a real spark of inspiration for me to continue my education.”


Josiah Sinanan, BA'17 (International Relations)

Josiah Sinanan, BA'17 (International Relations), a reporter and producer at CBC News, says, “My time abroad was a key moment in my personal and professional development. While in France, I feel I truly solidified my confidence for utilizing French as a second language (something I’d been studying most of my life, even within my degree), but it also opened my eyes to the world of international diplomacy and politics in a way that was truly standout.

“The courses available to me were specific to being on location and I could not have replicated them otherwise. It’s given me a direct advantage in my career and how I understand the world around me. My perspective on the world shifted during my time abroad and quenched many curiosities and dreams I had early on in my education.

“Today, I have been able to assist colleagues at Radio-Canada in French language content, I have a lengthened reach into French culture, and I have a broader understanding of international politics in a way that helps inform my storytelling and reporting that I believe does make me standout within my current context.

“I have developed a boldness and leadership that I didn’t have prior to my experience abroad.”

This has given me confidence in self-travel, strengthened my ability to work in a team and an enhanced sense of social skills that travelling and being placed in a foreign environment allowed me to develop.”

“Professionally, my time abroad has given me a leg up in many situations. Being more confident to utilize my French, having my employers know I was well-travelled and took courses that broadened my understanding of the world, and applying my people skills and intellectual intelligence that I developed abroad have been instrumental to being able to succeed in several realms, whether in social media, digital marketing, and now, as a reporter and media voice.” 


Daria Emami, BComm’19 (Finance)

Daria Emami, BComm’19 (Finance), currently works as a merchandise planner at The RealReal in New York City. “The courses I took on exchange were not offered at UCalgary,” says Emami. “I wanted to work in fashion, so through my exchange, I was able to take courses that are related to my work today in the luxury fashion industry.

“Personally, I made friends of a lifetime, and they are still my best friends to this day. I would not have moved to NYC had I not had this exchange semester. The connections I made ensured a smooth transition for moving full time.

“Professionally, I’m positive that I would not be where I am today had I not gone on exchange. Whilst on study abroad, I was hired as an intern for a fashion company based in NYC. I was able to use this experience to successfully be hired for a full-time role in NYC after graduation.”

As the University of Calgary continues to prioritize high-impact experiential learning opportunities for students, the remarkable long-term influence of global learning on the holistic development of its alumni clearly demonstrates the institution's commitment to nurturing global citizens equipped to navigate an increasingly interconnected world.

Explore our new Global Learning Alumni page to discover more about UCalgary's Global Learning Alumni and stay connected with fellow alumni. You can also support international student experiences here.

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