Where are They Now

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Where are they now is a new feature of the I.S. newsletter that provides an interview with a former faculty or student from the I.S. Department. In our third “Where are they now?” entry, Kim Stevenson interviewed Director of International Programs, Katherine Richardson, who taught at Rhodes in the International Studies Department part-time from 1987-88 and then full-time from 1990-1993. She was most gracious and we thought you might enjoy this update.   

 What are you doing now? As the Director of International Programs, I coordinate and develop study abroad and other international opportunities, such as volunteer and internship experiences, for Rhodes students. I also assist international students in their adjustment to life at Rhodes.

How long have you been Director of International Programs at Rhodes College? I helped establish the Office of International Programs at Rhodes, now the Buckman Center for International Education, in 1994. Prior to 1994 there was no Study Abroad office?  That’s correct, there was no one office where students could find information about the various study abroad programs. However, to be sure, Rhodes has promoted studying abroad for the last 40 years. Just look at our some of our long-standing programs such as British Studies at Oxford, European Studies, and our wonderful faculty-led Maymesters.  

What is the best part about being Director of International Programs at Rhodes? It’s great to help students find programs that fit their academic interests, see them get excited about the prospect of going abroad, and then learn about their actual experiences.  I recently received an email from a student abroad who said, “Life could not be better.  I am in love with the Middle East and someone is going to have to drag me back.”  That sort of communication is a day brightener. How could I not love a job with that type of student response?

How would you characterize the status of study abroad at Rhodes in 2009? Study Abroad is seen more and more as an integral part of the 4 year experience at Rhodes. Most students expect to spend time abroad. Rhodes was prominently noted in the Open Doors Report, published by the Institute for International Education, in three categories: 12th for percentage of undergraduate participation; 20th for sending students abroad for a short-term duration and 40th for total number of study abroad students.

What is your fondest memory as a Rhodes/Southwestern student? I have lots of fond memories but the ones that stand out involve Col. Likes and the Maymester in Spain with Professor Donald Tucker.  Both these professors pushed me academically and helped me increase my self-confidence and independence.

Why did you become interested in International Studies? I have always been interested in other countries, peoples and cultures but my interest really piqued as an I.S. major and after going to Spain with Professor Donald Tucker.  As a graduate student, I was surrounded by people from other countries. In fact, one of my dearest friends is from France and we met in graduate school.  I’m lucky to have found my niche in administration within this field.

Which faculty or staff member had the biggest influence on you as a Rhodes student? Without a doubt, it was Colonel David Likes.  The speaker series he sponsored featured notable political scientists such as Ole Holsti from Duke and Mort Kaplan from the University of Chicago. Students not only had the opportunity to hear what these men had to say in a class setting but could have one-on-one conversations with them over dinner.  It was his influence which led me on a life-long journey to be involved with all things international!

Tell us about your teaching experience in the International Studies Department. What did you enjoy most about that? I enjoyed learning from the students and my colleagues.

What words of advice do you have for other International Studies Department alumni? Take advantage of any opportunity to become involved at home or abroad in all things international.

Thank you so much for meeting with me, and telling me about your experiences in international studies and as the Director of International Programs.