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Coordinator’s advanced degree to aid Global Engagement initiative

Since 2011, Michele Raphoon, Coordinator of the Office of Global Engagement at LaGrange College, has been working with faculty and students to arrange study-away opportunities around the world through interim term and May away courses.

Now, after completing her master’s degree in international education, she said she is better prepared to help expand Global Engagement components into the curriculum.

“My studies included elements of international education theory, policy and practice, curriculum design, program planning and development, intercultural service, leadership and management, training for experiential learning and education for social justice,” she said. “I am now credentialed to work with our faculty to include some of those things into their courses.”

Raphoon earned her degree from the School for International Training Graduate Institute in Brattleboro, Vermont, which also offers graduate degrees and certificates in climate change and global sustainability, humanitarian assistance, peace and justice leadership, sustainable development and teaching English to speakers of other languages.

“It was designed so working professionals can get a degree while staying in their jobs,” she said. “Students spent one to three weeks on campus in Vermont each summer and then completed the rest of their coursework online.”

She said she had classmates from around the world.

“We had people from Madagascar, Turkey and France, as well as all over the United States,” she said. 

“It was very focused and very helpful to hear other perspectives and experiences.”

Dr. Karen Aubrey, Vice President for Academic Affairs, said Raphoon’s advanced degree adds another level of expertise to the college.

“One of LaGrange College’s differentiating programs is Global Engagement, with 78 percent of our students having studied abroad by the time they graduate,” she said.  “This is a phenomenal percentage of students when compared to other institutions.”

Because of the growth of study abroad and international education programs, she said the college is fortunate to have someone with Raphoon’s training.

“Her deeper perspectives on international education and administration of international programs will undoubtedly benefit our students and our Global Engagement initiatives,” she said.

Raphoon said she will be proposing a course called Cultural Competency that she hopes will be approved for 2020.

“The course would help students learn how to communicate and interact with other cultures and understand other ways of thinking and how to respond to those differences,” she said. “They’ll also learn how to be more empathetic to other cultures.”

Those skills will be especially useful for nursing and education students, she said.

To learn more about Global Engagement and the Study Away Initiative, contact Raphoon at mraphoon@lagrange.edu or by calling 706-880-8429.