By Kayli Hertel – Managing Editor
After six months on the job, Christine Lookner, who has succeeded Lena Berc as the Director of International Services, has already begun to leave her own mark on campus. It was the unique experience that Lasell offers both its study abroad and incoming international students that drew her to first apply for the position.
“I really love seeing students have these international experiences in both directions because I just think it’s one of the most important things anyone can do,” said Lookner. While many colleges separate the study abroad offices from the international student offices, Lasell combines the two due to its small size.
The international student office is for students who come to this country to study at Lasell while the study abroad office is specifically for Lasell students looking to venture out of the country for a semester.
In addition to her daily agenda of multitasking between getting students ready to leave for a new country and acclimating students to this one, Lookner believes in making the process of experiencing the world available to all students.
“I think the benefits are just unbelievable. There are discounted options so we are really trying to make it so everyone can participate in study abroad,” said Lookner. “I would like to make it as accessible an opportunity as possible for our students.”
Over the past year, under Lookner’s direction the office has added five brand new locations to their list of approved destinations. These locations include Germany, Cuba, Croatia, Ecuador, and Cape Town, South Africa. The office also has a partnership with the Letterkenny Institute of Technology in Ireland that recently began offering a free flight with their study abroad program similar to Franklin University’s in Switzerland.
Lookner has also overseen the centralizing and systematizing of the Shoulder-to-Shoulder programs application process. In the past, students have had to reach out to the professors in charge of the trip for the application but now that application and information can be found in the Study Abroad office.
The International Services office welcomed Lookner and her vision for the office with open arms. Kyle Benedict, the program assistant for International Services and Student Activities, noted Lookner’s observant nature when she first joined.
“Initially Christine sat back to observe and see the culture that was in place before making any major changes. Now that Christine has been director for about six months the office has transformed into a much more digital focused route,” said Benedict. The study abroad section of Lasell’s main website, http://www.Lasell.edu, has undergone a complete revampment. All of the approved programs are now listed online with direct links to their respective websites. There is also a program selection list that includes prompting questions, helpful comments, and a list of previously approved courses by Lasell.
Lookner feels that while growth in the program has been expedient there is room for improvement, “For our international students we would love to see more programing, more services, and more integration within our community here. I just really want that population to become a more visible part of our community.”