October 29, 2019 | UHCL Staff
Globalization is a process of interaction and integration among people, companies and governments around the world. It’s among University of Houston-Clear Lake’s priorities to offer students the chance to become more mobile than ever in their search for global experiences and job opportunities around the world. UH-Clear Lake’s new Executive Director of Education Abroad and Scholar Services Bianca Schonberg said that her job is to help students understand how studying abroad can enrich their lives and encourage them to go even further in the world to enhance their experience.
Her office is housed in the Office of Global Learning and Strategy.
“As the first person to be in this new position here, my role is to establish a formal study abroad department at UHCL,” she said. “One of my main goals is to bring the J-1 Visa designation to the university.”
That visa, she explained, would expand to allow UHCL to bring in international scholars and faculty, allow students to complete non-degree programs, and let international students do internships, or research and training. “Right now, we have international students on an F-1 visa, but pursuing the process for us to petition the U.S. State Department for the J-1, which would open the university to more recruitment opportunities and grants through the State Department,” she said. “And by next fall, when I hope we attain this designation, we will be able to bring our faculty’s colleagues from around the world to lecture or train our students, which is something they have been looking forward to.”
She said that she was also working to establish exchange programs between UHCL and partnering foreign institutions to allow students to study here for a semester or two, as well as send our students to that institution. “Under the guidance of (Assistant Vice President for Global Learning and Strategy and Senior International Officer) Gigi Do, who’s working to create partnerships with other universities around the world, I will take the established partnerships and collaborate with the institution to create a sustainable exchange program for faculty and students,” she said. “We hope ultimately to extend this opportunity to administrators, to give them the exposure to global experiences as well.”
“Bianca’s years of experience in education abroad will broaden world views and ways of thinking for our students by providing them more life experiences, personal connections, and different cultures firsthand,” said Do.
In the meantime, Schonberg said she is working with faculty to help them establish education abroad programs to enhance their curriculum or their college. “We want students to have an education beyond sitting in a classroom for four years,” she said.
Schonberg has spent more than 20 years working in the field of international education, study abroad and immigration advising. In 2012, she worked as the assistant director and interim associate director in UHCL’s Office of Admissions for four years. In 2017, she received a Fulbright scholarship to Russia, where she worked in a higher education administration program, and has also worked at South Texas College of Law in Houston, University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, Houston Community College and University of Texas System.
“When this position opened up, I knew it was a fit for me,” she said. “It’s great that (UHCL President) Dr. (Ira K.) Blake is so invested in international education, as well as the rest of the leadership here.”
She added that UHCL was in a position to make a global impact. “This is about the globalization of UHCL and creating future global leaders,” she said. “We want our students engaging with international students, and we want to offer service learning opportunities and bring in international faculty to enrich the students’ experience. This is the office that will help facilitate all of that.”
Read more about UHCL’s study abroad opportunities.