“A World of Opportunity”
Rebekah de Wit has studied and worked abroad in six different countries. She speaks fluent French, is pretty good at Dutch and Italian, and has taught undergraduate Latin. Now, thanks to a combination of programs at UMBC, she is on her way to turning her love of languages, foreign cultures and international education into an exciting career in study abroad administration.
Both a Humanities Scholar and a Maryland Distinguished Scholar during her undergraduate years, de Wit has received numerous additional UMBC and Maryland state merit scholarships since beginning her studies at UMBC. She was drawn to pursue a B.A. in Ancient Studies in part because of the department’s overseas opportunities for archaeology and language study.
“Many students aren’t aware that there are a number of scholarships available at UMBC if you’re interested in international studies,” she says. To date, de Wit has studied or worked in Wales, England, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Egypt.
De Wit presently puts her study abroad savvy to work as International Student Liaison for the UMBC Department of Education. She helps foreign students adjust to life at UMBC and in America. “I help them with everything from academic and cross-cultural issues to where to find the nearest grocery store,” she says. “I even meet them at the airport.”
After receiving her B.A. in 1999, de Wit began work on an M.A. in Teaching English as a Second Language and Bilingual Education through UMBC’s Instructional Systems Development program. In 2000, she traveled to the U.K., where she studied languages and education at the University of Wales, Swansea. There she also did two internships, one for the University’s American Studies Exchange Office and another with a Welsh language TV station.
While in Wales, de Wit realized that she wanted to spend her life doing what she loved. “I started out as a participant in study abroad and now it will be my career.”
Upon returning to the U.S., she enrolled in UMBC’s Language, Literacy and Culture Ph.D. program with the goal of advancing her career in study abroad administration. The L.L.C. program helped her to craft an interdisciplinary blueprint for her future career, as her dissertation topic, “The Role of Internships in Enhancing the Cross-Cultural Value of U.S. Study Abroad in Britain,” attests.
De Wit was pleased to find a program that met her unique needs. “To prepare for a career in international education, a degree in education administration wasn’t quite comprehensive enough. The L.L.C. program makes it possible to take classes in languages, education and administration, and at the same time offers exposure to people from all over the world with its multi-cultural enrollment. I’ve learned about other cultures not just from my classes, but from my classmates.”