Announcing the 2017 GoAbroad Innovation Award Winners!

As the leading resource for meaningful travel, GoAbroad is pleased to present annual awards celebrating exceptional innovations in international education. The winners are selected by a prestigious and selective group of international educators known as the GoAbroad Innovations Academy.

The GoAbroad team is pleased to share the winners of the 2017 GoAbroad Innovation Awards!

2017 GoAbroad Innovation Awards

Innovation in Alumni Engagement

Purdue Study Abroad – When the (Study Abroad) Students Become the Teachers: Global Leadership Mentors

Purdue Study Abroad developed the Global Leadership Mentors to extend learning opportunities for alumni. Past students are able to develop their training and experience in leadership by guiding intercultural learning exercises. Incoming Purdue freshmen earn three 400-level credits for their participation in the program. Alumni were key to this innovation that stretched a two-week experience into a semester-long, on-campus course and action project.

Congratulations, Purdue Study Abroad!

Innovation in Alumni Engagement - Purdue Study Abroad

Innovation in Diversity

District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) – DCPS Study Abroad

In 2016, the District of Columbia Public Schools launched an innovative global education program, offering fully-funded summer travel to 8th and 11th grade students through DCPS Study Abroad. By the end of this summer, DCPS Study Abroad will have sent over 800 students and 100 educators on free global trips. 600 of these students received their first passport because of their trip. The initiative is unique not only in its scale and funding, but also in the focus on equality. In a district where 76% of students receive free and reduced meals and over 82% of students are people of color, the initiative has the capacity the change the narrative about who has access to global experiences.

Congratulations District of Columbia Public Schools!

Innovation in Diversity - District of Columbia Public Schools

Innovation in Marketing & Digital Media

Study Abroad Office at Arizona State University – Faculty-Led Marketing Toolkit

Across college campuses, professors leading study abroad programs are one of the biggest assets to drive student participation. To support this population that is largely focused on teaching, research, and scholarship (and may or may not have experience with marketing and promotion), the Study Abroad Office at Arizona State University created a Faculty-Led Marketing Toolkit to empower faculty-directors to expand their student reach. This comprehensive site includes resources on target markets, Generation Z, questions on leading a program, recruiting timelines, marketing strategies, research, and answers to student FAQs.

Congratulations, Arizona State University Study Abroad Office!

Innovation in Marketing & Digital Media Winnner

Innovative New Program, Intern Abroad

Global Experiences & Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) – Accelerated Internship Abroad Experience

In 2016, Global Experiences was challenged by Rochester Institute of Technology to create an accelerated January term internship experience to inspire STEM majors to go abroad and meet the co-op credit requirement. Dublin was selected as an ideal host city for its culturally accessibility and unique focus on entrepreneurship that appealed to a range of majors. The design process resulted in a high-intensity experience combining three elements: Strengths-based Career Development, Entrepreneurship Training, and Cultural Immersion. Outcomes for students were significant and each participant’s gains were unique.

Congratulations, Global Experiences & RIT!

Innovative New Program, Intern Abroad Winner

Innovative New Program, Study Abroad

Queens University of Charlotte – Queens at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games

During spring semester 2016, Queens University of Charlotte led a faculty-led study abroad program to train 19 students to join the elite ranks of journalists, producers, and photographers covering the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The students examined Brazilian culture, the Olympic movement, and broadcasting operations. They also polished skills in videography, reporting, and editing, while collaborating with Brazilian journalism students from São Paulo. Students produced 26 multimedia packages over a 2-week period for NBC Charlotte’s website, nine appeared on the national NBC Olympics website, and three on USA Today. Because other journalists focused on competitions, these students examined the impact of the games on Rio residents. Story assignments forced students to understand and explain Rio culture for a broader audience.

Congratulations, Queens University of Charlotte!

Innovative New Program, Study Abroad - Queens University of Charlotte

Innovative New Program, Volunteer Abroad

African Impact – The Build-It Project

In Zambia, most people survive on only one US dollar a day and suffer from extremely poor infrastructure. For the past 10 years, African Impact has been working to find sustainable solutions to these problems, and in 2016, launched the Build-It Project. Build-It support communities by providing safe and sound structures created with ecological and self-sustaining materials. African Impact uses an innovative method known as Eco-bricking; stuffing plastic bottles with non-biological waste to create a reusable building block. It is a proven way of reducing litter, as well as a cost-effective method for building structures.

Congratulations, African Impact!

Innovative New Program, Volunteer Abroad - African Impact

Innovation in Philanthropy

Maya Universe Academy – Education & Livelihood Projects for Earthquake Victims

Maya Universe Academy is a small chain of free private schools providing access to quality education to rural and poor communities. The parents of students volunteer two days per month in agriculture, animal husbandry and handicrafts instead of paying tuition fees. One year after the devastating earthquake hit Nepal in 2015, Maya Universe Academy opened its doors to 25 students from epicenter-hit villages. The students have full scholarship and boarding thanks to local and international sponsors. Through funding from an NGO in Malta they have installed chicken coups in 10 family homes who will be raising chickens for the academy’s social business Maya’s Country Chicken. The aim of the project is to provide consistent funding support for the maintenance and growth of the school to become self-sustainable.

Congratulations, Maya Universe Academy!

Innovation in Philanthropy Winner

Innovation in Sustainability

Dar Si Hmad for Development, Education, and Culture – Ethnographic Field School

Dar Si Hmad’s project uses cutting-edge technology to harvest potable water from fog on the edge of the Sahara Desert, which is then piped to rural Amazigh communities that were previously without access to a water. Shortly after founding the project in 2010, Dar Si Hmad created an Ethnographic Field School, hosting unique study abroad programs and independent student research. The goal of the Field School is to support critical research and international study in this comparatively underrepresented region of Morocco and to encourage equitable exchange with direct benefits to local host communities.

Congratulations, Dar Si Hmad!

Innovation in Sustainability - Dar Si Hmad

Innovation in Technology

IES Abroad – Virtual Tours With VR Readers

With 10 Virtual Reality experiences, featuring 360 degree video, panoramas, photos, and guided narration along the way, IES Abroad is expands how prospective students visualize study abroad and makes it convenient for them to find answers to their own questions. Virtual Tours share a detailed, realistic, and engaging portrait of study abroad with their audiences. Instead of navigating a tour from a phone or computer, VR headsets encourage users to literally step inside IES programs, and walk through the classrooms, housing, and landmarks, as if they were there themselves!

Congratulations, IES Abroad!

Innovation in Technology Winner

The STA Travel Start the Adventure Award

LaSharon McLean Perez, University of California Riverside

LaSharon has dedicated her life to the study abroad office at UCR. She possesses an infectious positivity and passion for her work that is inspiring and captivating. Students trust LaSharon and know that studying abroad is possible because of her dedication and passion for destroying boundaries. She does everything in her power to send students abroad, paying special attention to non-traditional destinations and students from diverse backgrounds.

LaSharon goes above and beyond — she understands her students more than they understand themselves. Her drive for international education is like no other. She practices an open door policy where students can come to her when they are in need of any help. She embodies everything this award symbolizes and we are so grateful for her work.

Congratulations, LaSharon McLean Perez!

The STA Travel Start the Adventure Award - LaSharon McLean Perez

Innovative Student Video

“University of Utah Promo Reel” by Ethan Beseris, CEA Study Abroad


People’s Choice


Here’s what advisors had to say about this organization:

“We are a small school, about 100 students study abroad, but CISabroad has always been willing to work with us and treat us with the same attention to detail and respect as the larger schools.”

Most importantly, CISabroad’s commitment to under-served students is worthy of note. They worked closely with us to provide amazing support for a physically handicapped student. The resources and education for advisors on how to work with LBGTQ students has been useful and is helping us to reach out to those populations to encourage study abroad.

CISabroad always keeps the student experience at the foreground of any communication, decision-making, or new venture.

Congratulations, CISabroad!



We are pleased to recognize the 2017 winners! If you have any questions about the GoAbroad Innovation Awards, please contact Megan Lee at

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