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Youngwood adviser guides college students to foreign lands

| Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013, 7:32 p.m.
Sara M. Hart has been named director of the study-abroad program at Saint Vincent College.

Sara Hart's new position as the director of the study-abroad program at St. Vincent College is a perfect fit for the academic adviser who strongly supports global learning.

Hart, a Youngwood resident who graduated from the Unity college in 2005, studied abroad at the Universite D'Aix Marseille III in France in spring 2004. She earned a master's degree at St. Vincent in 2008.

“I have always been an advocate for studying abroad and I thoroughly enjoyed my own experience,” Hart said, adding that she enjoys when students seek the chance to study abroad. “I appreciate that there is an interest.”

The college selected Hart for the position based on her passion, her experience and growing interest in the field.

“As an undergraduate, Sara spent a semester in France, an experience she describes as being transformative,” Dean of Studies Alice Kaylor said. “ Her understanding of the added value of a study-abroad experience to the undergraduate education, along with her previous success in academic affairs, made her an excellent choice for the position.”

In addition to continuing many duties of an academic adviser, Hart will work with St. Vincent students who are planning to travel to other countries.

She will help them with the initial process of fulfilling the needed requirements and will continue to assist by acting as a liaison to students once they are situated with their host families.

“I'll keep in contact with them as we want to hear about the experiences that they are having, and also we will continue to speak with them to answer any questions that they might have,” Hart said.

Most students who seek the abroad scholastic experience opt for summer trips or a semester of study, with only a handful seeking a full year abroad.

“Twenty students studied abroad over summer 2013,” Hart said. “Destinations included Australia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, England, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Poland, Spain and Taiwan. And three students are currently abroad. Two will return at the end of this semester; one will remain abroad through end of spring. Study locations are Italy, Japan and Morocco.”

Hart said that there is already strong interest for the upcoming year. Summers abroad have grown in popularity for the students due to fewer scheduling conflicts.

“Thirty students have inquired about studying abroad during spring, summer and fall 2014, which includes full-semester and summer programs as well as the four-week Mexico program over December and summer breaks,” Hart said. “ Locations of interest include London, England; Edinburg, Scotland; Florence and Rome, Italy; Cuernavaca, Mexico; Chile, and Australia. Several of these students have inquired about internship and service learning opportunities in a foreign country.”

Hart said she appreciates working in the field.

“This is all so exciting and I've been so busy,” Hart said. “I appreciate that there is interest in going abroad and I appreciate the students' open-minded, global mindset. I'm very thankful for all of the support that I have received from the college in pursuing this.”

Hart is a 2001 graduate of Belle Vernon Area High School.

Marilyn Forbes is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.