In August, the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives welcomed April Stroud ’99 as the new director of Study Abroad, a position previously known as dean of International Studies.
Stroud comes to Mount Holyoke from her former job at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst International Programs Office. Her new job carries a personal sentimental value, as she studied abroad for a year in Germany while she attended Mount Holyoke, and was sent abroad by McCulloch’s previous advisor, Joanne Picard.
“I’m so excited to be here, to be sort of following in her footsteps,” Stroud said. “It is also really neat because there are very big shoes to fill.”
Picard will not officially retire until late October; she has been working part-time in the office since Stroud joined the staff. When Picard retires she will have worked at Mount Holyoke for 40 years, 30 of those in the study abroad department.
Since joining the staff on Aug. 1, Stroud has been busy meeting with leaders from different study abroad programs and with faculty advisors on campus. Her office has welcomed many juniors this past month who are finalizing their plans for spring study abroad programs, which excites Stroud.
“This is my dream job,” she said.
Stroud’s international experiences extend beyond her academic year abroad. She spent five years in the Netherlands with her now husband, whom she met while abroad in Germany. During that time, she worked for several companies before returning to the Pioneer Valley.
She came back with more specific career goals, knowing she wanted to work in international education. Stroud received Master’s and doctorate degrees in higher education from UMass Amherst. She began working in the international programs office in 2005. Stroud remained in close contact with Picard throughout her work with UMass, often seeing her at different Five College international study events.
While Stroud recognizes the experiential and personal value of studying abroad, she is also a proponent of its professional advantages. “I think there is a large push for internships at the College,” she said, “but study abroad also is great preparation for professional development and it gets you taken seriously.”
She acknowledged that although not as many people think of study abroad from this perspective, the experience leaves students with many transferable skills.
Stroud also emphasized that participating in an international study program is feasible for all students, with the appropriate planning. When students graduate from college and begin working or taking on other responsibilities, she said it is usually more difficult to live abroad for long periods of time.
Stroud says she doesn’t want any student at Mount Holyoke to regret not studying abroad.