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Making World Connections 

Courtney Elias, shown in two of her study abroad sojourns in Japan, in May became the first University at Albany student to graduate with Global Distinction.

ALBANY, N.Y. (Oct. 30, 2018) – When Courtney Elias of Penn Yan, N.Y., was a little girl, she wanted to be a ninja when she grew up.

She thought that if she went to Japan and learned the language, she would be able to make this happen. As she grew up, she realized this was a highly improbable dream, but her passion for Japan remained.

When Elias earned her B.A. in East Asian Studies with a minor in Japanese in May, she became the first University at Albany student to graduate with Global Distinction.

The undergraduate Global Distinction milestone is a structured sequence of international academic activities, including globally-oriented coursework, four semesters in a foreign language, and an international immersion experience. This experience involves a study abroad and an eight-week internship or research placement.

“Global Distinction fit perfectly with my post-graduation plans because I was already doing all that was required of the program; it simply gave me a name to what I was doing,” Elias said. “I feel like there are a lot of other students like me doing the same things that relate directly to Global Distinction, however, they don’t necessarily know about the program. It’s a new program for the Center for International Education and Global Strategy (CIEGS). But I’m sure that once these students find out about the program, they would definitely join!”

When Elias signed up for the Global Distinction milestone, she had already studied abroad for almost three years in Japan, one year while in high school, and her sophomore and junior years in college, first in Tokyo and then Osaka.

She had three job offers before graduating from UAlbany. She accepted a job with a Japanese company, in the sales department, and moved to Tokyo in August. The other offers were a position with Disney in China and a job teaching English in Japan.

Elias heard about the designation from Pedro Espindola, a graduate assistant in the CIEGS office who thought she would be a good fit. Students self-select into the initiative and then have to earn the distinction. After that, she met with Annette Richie in CIEGS to make sure she met the qualifications.

“She was super helpful, and I enjoyed meeting up with her to talk about the program,” Elias said, adding this sequence gave her a great way to build connections world-wide, and to grow as a person.

“We are thrilled to bring the Global Distinction to students pursuing all majors,” said Associate Vice Provost for Global Academic Programs Carrie Wojenski. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to tie your undergraduate experiences together and demonstrate to future employers your global engagement. Visit Annette, our Director of Global Academic Programs, for advisement and guidance throughout your entire Global Distinction journey.”

“Global Distinction matters because it’s open to all and it’s a great opportunity to accomplish something amazing,” Elias said. “If someone wants to learn a second language, or study/intern abroad, or simply wants to have an advantage in the job market, then they should go for Global Distinction. There’s absolutely nothing to lose. Plus, the program doesn’t require additional class credit, which is always a bonus.”

More information is available at globaldistinction@albany.edu, or stop by CIEGS in Science Library G40.

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About the University at Albany
A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.