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### Empowering Bears: Study Abroad Student Leader Program Offers Opportunities

The Center for Global Engagement offers a variety of resources to students, including the Study Abroad Student Leaders program, which connects prospective study abroad students with peers who share their experiences. Created two years ago by Kodi Henderson, the assistant director of study abroad, this program aims to provide advice and support to students throughout the study abroad process.

Student leaders, who volunteer five hours per semester, assist with various activities such as course workshops, informational meetings about different countries, pre-departure orientation, and study abroad fairs. They also engage in one-on-one sessions with students to share their personal stories and insights.

While the staff can provide guidance on academic and financial matters, student leaders offer a more personal perspective based on their own experiences. According to Henderson, this approach helps students set realistic expectations and feel more comfortable about studying abroad.

Participating in the program not only benefits prospective students but also enriches the experience of the student leaders themselves. Returning students, like Cypress senior Courtney Bonnard, who took part in the Baylor in Maastricht program, often feel a lack of community to share their experiences. Becoming a student leader allows them to connect with others who are genuinely interested in hearing about their time abroad.

For Bonnard, the decision to become a student leader was influenced by her own challenges in finding guidance before her trip to Maastricht. She emphasizes the importance of having a peer who can relate to the uncertainties of studying abroad and provide valuable advice.

Henderson encourages students who are considering studying abroad to reach out to a student leader for support. The Center for Global Engagement website features a page dedicated to student leaders, where students can find information about each leader and select someone who aligns with their questions and interests.

Alexa Mendes, a senior from San Diego, California, who has participated in both the Baylor in Madrid and Baylor in Argentina programs, values the opportunity to share her story and inspire others to embark on their own study abroad journey. She believes that by recounting her impactful experiences, she can help undecided students envision the adventure and growth that studying abroad can offer.

The Study Abroad Student Leader program, which started with 10 members and has now expanded to 40, welcomes applications from study abroad alumni who are in good academic standing. Henderson looks forward to further growth of the program, noting the positive impact it has had on students’ decision-making process and their overall educational experience.

Interested students can apply to become study abroad student leaders through the Center for Global Engagement website, with applications accepted year-round. Upon completion of their study abroad program, students will receive an email with more details about the application process.