Skip to Content

### Enhancing Study Abroad Accessibility: Insights from Penn Abroad Director and Her Inaugural Passport Stamp

Upon arriving in Morocco for her first study abroad experience, Kristyn Palmiotto felt a mix of nerves and excitement, gazing at her solitary passport stamp with uncertainty.

Reflecting on that moment, she thought, “I guess I’m doing this.”

Palmiotto’s journey to becoming the executive director of Penn Abroad began during her undergraduate years at Binghamton University in New York. Initially an English major, her fascination with Arabic language sparked after taking a course on Middle Eastern history. This newfound interest led her to Morocco for a summer program, marking her first significant travel experience. Despite the initial challenges, Palmiotto found the experience both demanding and fulfilling, propelling her to seek further international opportunities.

Following her graduate studies at Teachers College at Columbia, Palmiotto’s career path led her to work with the NGO Global Nomads Group. In this role, she facilitated virtual dialogues between American students and their peers in the Middle East and North Africa, fostering mutual understanding and breaking down stereotypes.

Transitioning to her current role at Penn Abroad, Palmiotto aims to make global experiences more accessible to all students, particularly those traditionally underrepresented in study abroad programs. By expanding the range of programs and initiatives, such as the Penn Global Research Institutes and the Penn Global Seminars, she and her team strive to provide diverse and meaningful opportunities for students.

One such student, Ruqaiyyah Lucas-Caldwell, a senior on a pre-med track, has already embarked on multiple international experiences through Penn Abroad. From a summer internship in France to a semester at King’s College London and a program in Chile focusing on the local healthcare system, Lucas-Caldwell emphasizes the transformative impact of studying abroad, especially for students of color.

Ensuring student safety amidst global events is a top priority for Palmiotto and her collaboration with Penn’s Office of Risk Management and Insurance (ORMI) underscores their commitment to mitigating health and safety risks for travelers. By meticulously planning and addressing potential concerns, they strive to enable students to explore the world safely and authentically.

Looking ahead, Penn Abroad’s strategic plan for 2023-2028 includes enhancing existing programs and launching new initiatives to further broaden students’ global horizons. By fostering partnerships and reducing barriers to international experiences, Palmiotto envisions a future where studying abroad is not only enriching but also accessible to all aspiring globetrotters.