Abigail Lynch - Assistant Director of University Relations
Abigail is originally from Madison, Wisconsin, but has lived, studied and worked abroad for many years. In her study abroad experience, she had the unique opportunity of being the only American in her program amongst forty other nationalities. At the ripe age of 16, this widen her perspective of the world and her desire to be within an international community. Abigail joined the CEPA Foundation in southern Germany to manage a variety of aspects of the organization through their University Relations.
Where are CEPA Foundation programs located and which ones do you manage?
We have programs in Heidelberg, Strasbourg, Barcelona, Bilbao, Dublin, London, and Prague. I oversee our Barcelona, Bilbao, Dublin, London, and Prague programs.
What is a typical day at work like for you?
Well, I do not have a typical work day. We have so many wonderful initiatives at CEPA Foundation with our Center for Intercultural Relations, symposiums, webinars, taking care of our students, touching base with universities, and so on. It keeps us busy and we can never be sure what the day will bring. It really is a team effort to make it all happen.
What sets CEPA programs apart from other programs in your locations?
Our emphasis is on personal, academic, and career development throughout the semester. The personal portion is supported through the On-Site Program Director and their insider knowledge as a local as well as through reflective discussions. Academically, our students attend some of the best universities in Europe. Our career development is built directly into the Experiential Learning seminar through the symposium every semester in Strasbourg, France, business excursions, and one-on-one preparation before the student heads home.
How diverse are CEPA participants?
We pride ourselves on the quality of personal service that we can offer each student. Our participants come from every economic level, all over the world, every discipline, and many different universities.
How do you ensure that program participants are safe throughout their program?
We regularly visit each of our sites, the On-Site Program Director is present, we have an Emergency number where students can reach us 24 hours a day, and we research all other service providers that we use to ensure they have provided a safe history in the past.
How does CEPA Foundation help participants cope with culture shock?
Along with the career development, culture shock is built into our Experiential Learning seminar. As a smaller organization, we make sure that each student is met where they are with topics like culture shock since the process of living in another country is very individual.
What kind of support do you give to participants from beginning to end?
We are in contact with each student before their departure to prepare them for their program, students are met at the airport, assisted with moving in, regularly checked in with, the On-Site Program Directors hold the Experiential Learning seminar twice per month, and we’re more than happy to assist students with anything that comes up in order to make their time abroad extraordinary.
What is the biggest benefit of participating in CEPA Foundation programs?
The biggest benefit of participating in a CEPA Foundation program is that students know that they will have a very personal approach to their study abroad program. From the moment the students decide to study abroad until after they go home, we are here for them.
What component of CEPA programs is the greatest contributor to participant satisfaction, in your experience?
From students we hear that they really enjoy all the excursions we have specially built into each program to get the students more engaged in the country and Europe.
What features do you want to add to CEPA programs in the next few years?
Our programs are built to be easily altered to the student’s needs. As a foundation, we are currently developing a greater scholarship program and the Center for Intercultural Relations.