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Mentor Profile


mentor picture Kenya Casey
Kenya Casey
Study Abroad Advisor
Emory University
Kenya Casey is associate director of the Center for International Programs Abroad at Emory University. She advises for Africa and Asia, supervises full–time staff, and serves as the coordinator for the office's Minority... Kenya Casey is associate director of the Center for International Programs Abroad at Emory University. She advises for Africa and Asia, supervises full–time staff, and serves as the coordinator for the office's Minority Outreach Initiative. She co–facilitates diversity workshops, nationally and abroad, focusing on recruiting underrepresented students to education abroad. Kenya studied abroad in Ghana during her undergraduate studies and Ethiopia while in graduate school. Before entering the education abroad field she worked on an adolescent reproductive health project in Jamaica for two years and then returned to the US to work for the Urban League of Broward County as a mental health specialist from 2003-2004. She was the recipient of the Fulbright Scholars Award where she participated in the Fulbright Korea International Educators Administration Program. She earned a B.A. in psychology from Clark Atlanta University and a M.S.W. from the Howard University School of Social Work.


  1. Select a program based on the location and course offerings. More so now than in the past, students are studying abroad, therefore you want to choose a program that has some added value. For example, ask if internships are available or if there are volunteer opportunities. Sometimes if a student is having a hard time selecting a program I encourage him/her to do a “pros and cons” list of the programs that he/she is interested in. It’s important to consider the following: cost, language requirements, academics, living arrangements, location, travel, sports/extracurricular activities, research and service opportunities.
    8 answers – Deciding On A Program
  2. Do your research! Compare and contrast your program options. Meet with your academic advisor and study abroad advisor to determine if your credits and grades will transfer. When comparing programs, it is helpful to compare cost, language requirements, academics, living arrangements, location, travel, sports/extracurricular activities, research and service opportunities.
    6 answers – Deciding On A Program
  3. My one regret it that I didn’t volunteer while I was in Ghana, and I wish I had. I was so focused on academics and getting to know the country that I did not make any time for service or volunteer opportunities. It is important to contribute to the community that you are a part of for that semester. In addition, you also want to ensure that your experience has that extra “added value,” i.e. something that can be added to your resume (think long term)!
    5 answers – Before You Leave – Personal
  4. Very important! Look up quick facts about the country and the political situation of the places you will be visiting. The Lonely Planet or any travel book is great for providing little snippets of information. I never leave home without a travel book! The US Department of State’s travel website is also a great resource. (
    7 answers – For African Americans – For Asian/ Pacific Americans – For Hispanic/ Latin@ – Before You Leave – For Native Americans
  5. Safety is a concern for most parents, understandably so. My approach is to educate the parents about the resources that are available on campus and abroad. Many times the students are not sharing the information they have received with their parents. Most programs provide pre-departure materials with detailed information about health and safety, parents should ask for copies. Parents may not be aware of the online resources, so I direct them to the US Department of State’s travel website at In addition, I encourage the parent to inquire whether his/her daughter has registered online with the US Embassy of the country being visited. It is important that students and parents do research on the political, social and economic situation of the country the student is visiting. With the knowledge gained from their research, students will have a better understating of the history and current state of the country. Racism exists abroad, just as it does here in America. Parents should talk openly with their children about racism, sexism, and the class system. Sometimes having a former study abroad participant speak with the parent or child helps ease their concerns
    4 answers – Racism – Safety Issues
  6. Each experience in the countries I visited varied. However, for the most part when I travel abroad, most people do not believe me when I say I am African American. Very few people in the places that I have visited have had encounters with an African American. Hence, being educated and well traveled, I am sometimes viewed as the exception to the rule. It has been my experience that in many countries the only images that people see of African Americans is via music videos, movies and other forms of the media. Therefore I try to educate, dispel the myths and break down the stereotypes of my culture that are perpetuated in the media.
    12 answers – Racism – Gender – While Abroad
  7. I share my own story about studying abroad and the obstacles that I encountered. I also educate students about the resources that are available. Students like to hear from other students, so whenever possible, I try to connect a former study abroad student with a student inquiring or hesitant about studying abroad. Hearing the study abroad perspective from another student is important.
    6 answers – For African Americans – For Asian/ Pacific Americans – For Hispanic/ Latin@ – For Native Americans
  8. There are few students from diverse backgrounds that travel overseas; therefore those that take advantage of the opportunity to travel internationally become global ambassadors for young people who think international travel is not an option. In addition, studying abroad, if you make the most of it, will prove to be an asset to your professional career and overall collegiate experience. Those that never studied abroad in college, when they look back, always wish they had!
    16 answers – For African Americans – For Asian/ Pacific Americans – For Hispanic/ Latin@ – Personal – For Native Americans
  9. When exploring study abroad options, look for programs that allow you to engage in experiential learning and/or research. Think about how your study abroad experience will complement your major and better prepare you for graduate school or the work force. International social work is a field of practice that can be very broad. Through my MSW program, I gained many of the skills that prepared me for working abroad such as qualitative research, crisis management, outreach and community development, and problem solving. Even though my professional training was in social work, I worked on public health projects while living in Jamaica; therefore, I was not confined to doing "social work." With a degree in social work, some of your career options include community development/outreach work and/or research. Many graduate school programs are looking for candidates who have experience working with diverse populations as a result of working or living abroad. Often they look highly upon those who have worked internationally and have gained transferable skills because of their international experiences. If you don't know where to begin looking for experiential learning based programs, speak with faculty in your department and visit the study abroad office. Ask your study abroad advisor if he/she knows of any international service learning and/or research based programs.
    1 answers – Deciding On A Program – For African Americans – For Asian/ Pacific Americans – For Hispanic/ Latin@ – For Native Americans
  10. While obtaining a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at Clark Atlanta University, I spent the Fall semester of my senior year at the University of Ghana. That experience changed my career trajectory and was instrumental in preparing me for a graduate school program. I learned that psychology was not a widely practiced field in West Africa and that social work was a better fit for my interests in counseling, community development, and research. As an undergraduate, I was interested in doing more individual counseling, but after living in Africa for a semester, I became more interested in working with community members to bring about change. As a result, I enrolled in the Howard University School of Social Work's MSW program. The program did not have an international component, so I created one! The summer between my first and second semesters I spent two months in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I volunteered with a non–governmental organization (NGO) that had a holistic approach to community development. That experience taught me a lot about the role government and international organizations play in the allocation of resources for NGOs. I also learned a lot about the sometimes challenging/negative impact volunteers can have on local community members and organizations. It was a wake–up call for me, and the experience made me question my own intentions for wanting to work abroad. After obtaining my MSW, I worked for two years in Kingston, Jamaica as a consultant for an adolescent reproductive health project. My experience in Ethiopia laid the foundation and equipped me with the skills needed to work and conduct research in Jamaica.
    1 answers – Personal – Career
  11. Often I hear students say they cannot afford to study abroad, yet they have not researched the actual cost of a summer or semester program. Never assume you cannot afford to study abroad. There are many colleges and universities that allow students to use their federal and institutional aid toward their summer or semester(s) abroad. In addition, there are several scholarships for students who have high financial need. Speak to your study abroad advisor to learn more about the various scholarships, but also do your own research. Think about fundraising as an option; even if you only raise $500, that money could go toward your airfare. There are several crowdsourcing sites online that provide travelers with a platform to fundraise.
    6 answers – How to pay
  12. Consider conducting research as a way to gain an academic experience abroad while in graduate school. Check with your department to inquire about research grants. I actually received a grant from another university to conduct research one summer in Ethiopia. Look into whether or not you qualify for one of the Fulbright research grants. There are programs for graduate students, but you may find that there are several faculty at your university who are leading research projects overseas.
    3 answers – Deciding On A Program
  13. My birth name is Kenya. As a child, I knew one day I would travel to my namesake country. While attending a Historically Black University like Clark Atlanta University, I learned a lot about African American and African history. Many of my professors stressed the importance of traveling to Africa to learn more about the history of the continent; I honestly do not remember my professors encouraging students to study in Europe. Originally I wanted to study abroad in Kenya but could not afford the program. My next choice was Ghana because of the Pan–African movement that took place there and the large settlement of African–Americans in the country. The semester I spent at the University of Ghana was life–changing. I quickly learned I was an American first and a white woman second. For the most part, no one believed I was African–American or that I had any African ancestry. At times I felt like I spent half the semester giving a U.S. history lesson on slavery, segregation, and the civil rights movement. It was the first time I realized that people could not tell my racial and ethnic make–up just by looking at me.
    3 answers – Deciding On A Program – Racism
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