By Matthew Dutton
Once a research assistant in India, a current Ph.D. candidate at the University of Kentucky and all-around world traveler, Ashley Coffey adds director of Flagler’s international center to her belt.
Coffey studied women’s reproduction rights in India and was an ESL teacher in Sahuayo, Mexico. Such experiences in her academic career inspired her to look more into international relations.
“I had to find all the programs and activities on my own and it propelled me to pursue this career path,” Coffey said.
Coffey’s extensive experience in international relations has led her to this position and she hopes to bring awareness of the office’s presence on campus.
Coffey now single-handedly operates the International Center and has an overarching goal for the office moving forward.
“Our main goal is to ensure that everyone has an international experience,” Coffey said.
Gaining cultural and global knowledge has always been a goal of the office through study abroad opportunities. Now, Coffey wants to expand that experience within the campus community.
“I really want to work with faculty and staff to internationalize the campus through teaching and scholarship. Creating professional development opportunities and a living learning community is a good way to tie in with the local community.”
Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Coffey still plans to move forward with creating experiences through the international center.
“I would still encourage students to stay involved because of the many benefits of studying abroad. One thing we plan to do is increase the number of virtual opportunities so students can become flexible and open to ambiguity,” Coffey said.
Coffey believes that there are opportunities for students to become global citizens within their own community through study abroad or study away programs.
“Being exposed to a variety of thought processes and cultures would help students be tolerant to diversity,” Coffey said. “There are many forms of study abroad like internships, research and service learnings that you can even do here in the U.S.”
Coffey also said how important the office is when welcoming international students to campus.
“We want to successfully integrate international students and scholars into campus. We want them to feel that they are a part of the campus and contributing to the campus diversity.”
Coffey continues to plan for new and annual events like international week to get students involved with the program.
“I am honored they selected me to be the next director,” Coffey said. “The previous directors have done an excellent job in building the program and now it is my turn to move the program to higher heights.”