Cultural Immersion Opportunities

The M.Ed. in Higher Education program places an emphasis on cultural diversity and the growing internationalization of our local, state, national and global societies.  To this end, Grand Valley and faculty in the M.Ed. in Higher Education program encourage students to seek out opportunities which will help them develop competence in this critically important area.

Two aspects of the academic program that can help students achieve this is through their practica experience and/or through one of our on-going cultural immersion opportunities.  

Study Abroad and Study Away:

Students enrolled in the College Student Affairs Leadership program are required to complete two 150-hour practica experiences which could also be potentially completed in international settings.  Students work with faculty and staff in the Padnos International Center to arrange for an international practicum experience.  Limited opportunities are also available for students to apply to serve as assistant directors of faculty led study abroad programs.

Student in front of London Bridge

Sarah Tibbe

As an undergraduate student, I fell in love with Grand Valley during my first tour (and it was even in the middle of winter)! As a student I became involved in various organizations and worked on-campus in the Frederik Meijer Honors College. Collectively, these experiences awakened my passion for helping students be empowered by their education and dare to try new things. This led me to continue my journey, and career, at Grand Valley in the College Student Affairs Leadership program. Not only was I familiar with the university, but the curriculum provided ample opportunity for hands-on learning and experiences.

One such experience was my summer practicum at the University of Roehampton in London, England working in their study abroad office. During this experience I assessed their summer programs amidst the changing student body landscape and developed new student experience programming. This experience helped me grow personally and professionally. For I was able to directly apply the lessons learned in class to new environments and challenge my own limits. The experience also provided me the insights to speak on the impact and value of international education at academic conferences. From the classroom to overseas, I am confident that Grand Valley’s program has prepared for a fulfilling career in Higher Education, anywhere in the world.

Damaris Crocker De Ruiter


Graduate Assistantship: Gayle R. Davis Center for Women and Gender Equity

I am originally from Muskegon, MI, and I chose Grand Valley State University's College Student Affairs Leadership (CSAL) program becuase of it's cohort model and emphasis on hands-on learning. Not only do I have a graduate assistantship for both years of my program, but I also have the opportunity to have two other practicum experiences related to higher education and student affairs. This past summer, I had the privilege of being a faculty assistant for the 5-week Honors Ghana study abroad trip as my first practicum experience. I was able to work closely with students and faculty as we navigated a new culture together, I co-created and implemented intentional reflection activities with the other graduate student on the trip, and I gained experience in the adminstrative side of study abroad. I was also able to learn about myself, how I relate to students, and how I see myself fitting into the student affairs profession as well. My undergraduate degree is in Intercultural Studies, and I had previously studied abroad. This educational background allowed me to combine what I learned in my undergraduate program with what I am learning in my graduate program, which was an important component in my practicum search. Becuase of this practicum experience, I have gained risk-management, adaptability, and leadership skills, all of which will be beneficial in my career field. I am so grateful to have had such a unique practicum experiences, and I am thankful for the relationships that have developed becuase of this experience. The CSAL program at Grand Valley truly prepares students to work in the student affairs field becuase of the emphasis on practical, hands-on experience. When I graduate in April, I will have two years of professtional graduate assistantship experience, as well as two 150-hour practicum experiences. This program has empowered me to be the best student and professional I can be, and I am developing necessary skills to be successful in the student affairs profession. 

CSAL Students in Ghana

CSAL Student in Ghana

CSAL Students in Ghana

Hannah Claywell

Graduate Assistantship: Padnos International Center 

I came to Grand Valley State University and the CSAL program to gain significant experience in my desired field of International Education and to prepare for working with students in a higher education setting. I value the opportunity to directly apply the important student affairs topics that we discuss in class to my graduate assistant work in the Padnos International Center, and vice versa. Another way we gain experience and give context to our acquired student affairs knowledge is through our required practicum experiences. This past summer, I was lucky enough to serve as a Program Assistant for a faculty-led study abroad program for TRiO students to Chile. In my graduate assistantship, I do a lot of work in the recruiting and preparation stages for these types of short-term programs, while my practicum in Chile allowed me to work with a program from start to finish, work with underrepresented students in an international context, formally assess student global learning, and understand first-hand how a program actually runs. My passion for international education and student affairs is fueled by this program and the many opportunities for professional development, networking, research, internships, program development, and learning from the incredible professionals I work with every single day. Graduate students have a wealth of resources available to them at GVSU, and my advice would be to make the most of your two years here by asking questions, stepping out of your comfort zone, and surrounding yourself with people who support your own academic and professional goals. 

GVSU Students in Chile

GVSU Students after climbing mountain in Chile

GVSU Students in Chile