The Study Abroad Office professional staff have spent considerable time living and working abroad, in addition to participation on study abroad programs. Our work is guided by both national and university standards of best practice regarding student support. We are focused on making an international academic experience as accessible as possible for every student who wants to participate. We have one of the most diverse study abroad student cohorts of any university. These students have accessed over $1.3 million in scholarship and grant funding in the past six years.
Collectively, Study Abroad staff formal work experience in international education exceeds fifty years and we have fluency in five languages (English, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, and Hindi). Our academic degree backgrounds include: doctoral research in History and Geography in India; Oriental Studies and Chinese Linguistics in Russia; Hispanic Studies in Spain; Public Administration; Business Administration; and Psychology.
- Chris Deegan, Executive Director
- Irina Krymova, Associate Director
- Kat Aldag, Associate Director
- Krystal Williams, Assistant Director
- John E. Coumbe-Lilley, Faculty Advisor
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Chris joined the Study Abroad Office in May 2004. After serving in the Peace Corps in India, he earned his Master of Arts degree in Asian Studies at the University of Hawaii. He then continued graduate work as a Doctoral Degree Fellow with the East-West Center in Honolulu where he was a member of a research team at the Institute for Culture and Communication. His doctoral fieldwork focused on the cultural geography of pilgrimage and identity in the Narmada River valley of central India. Portions of that research are published as: “The Narmada in Myth and History”, in Toward Sustainable Development: Struggling Over India’s Narmada River, Wm. Fisher (ed.). M.E. Sharpe, 1995 and “The Narmada: Circumambulation of a Sacred Landscape”, in Hinduism and Ecology: The Intersection of Earth, Sky, and Water, Chapple and Tucker, (eds.): Harvard University Press, 2000.
For over a decade, Chris was a research consultant for international and non-governmental organizations involved in rural development projects, including an assignment as the principal researcher for a UNICEF project in western India on the cultural epidemiology of guineaworm disease. He then began a second career in international education.
Before coming to UIC, he spent three years as a study abroad Program Director in India and a dozen years in college administration as a Dean/Regional Director of Asian and Pacific Studies. In addition to strategic planning and oversight of regional safety/risk management issues, his portfolio of responsibilities included creating and supervising program centers and academic curricula at locations throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
Chris is involved in a number of international education projects and committees. He presents regularly at professional conferences on a range of topics including safety and risk management, student and cultural diversity, and critical literacies in curriculum development for study abroad. He is a member of the Standards Committee and the Ethics Working Group of the Forum on Education Abroad and has led professional development workshops on these topics. He is also an active member of the Association for Asian Studies, NAFSA: Association of International Educators, the Diversity Abroad Network, and represents the university on the Academic Consortium Board of the Council on International Educational Exchange.
Australia, China [mainland & SAR Hong Kong], Denmark, Ethiopia, Fiji, India, Indonesia [Bali & Sumatra], Kenya, Mongolia, Nepal, New Zealand, Samoa, Thailand, Vietnam.
Barbados, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, UK.
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Irina joined the Study Abroad Office in 1999. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Oriental Studies and Chinese Linguistics from Russia’s Moscow State University. As part of her degree program, she spent an academic year studying abroad at Beijing Foreign Studies University in China. She was awarded her Master of Business Administration from UIC with a concentration in International Marketing. Irina has travelled widely and undertaken numerous study abroad program evaluation site visits in Europe and Asia. She has presented at national conference proceedings on international education and represented UIC Study Abroad at numerous professional meetings.
Irina leads the development, expansion and implementation of faculty-led study abroad programs for undergraduate students across campus. She works with domestic and international partners to monitor all program components to be in compliance with established international education Standards of Best Practices and university protocols. She is committed to making study abroad accessible to as many UIC students as possible by establishing a diverse portfolio of faculty led programs across colleges and disciplines.
Chile, China, Ecuador, France, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Russia, Thailand, South Korea, UK.
Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Germany, Latvia, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine.
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Kat joined the UIC Study Abroad Office in November, 2015. She holds a BA in Hispanic Studies from Oberlin College and an MA in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago. During her undergraduate career, she spent 10 months studying abroad in Salamanca, Spain at Universidad de Salamanca, cultivating her appreciation for international education. She is currently pursuing a Master of Arts degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.
Kat’s experience in higher education has included academic administration, development of curricula around Feminist Theory, and the organization of a Cultural Studies Colloquium Series. For four years, Kat was an academic advisor in UIC’s School of Literatures, Cultural Studies, and Linguistics, where she advised students on majors and/or minor across 14 programs, working closely with the Study Abroad Office as a course equivalency signatory to ensure holistic advising. She was also an instructor for the Global Learning Community Seminar, a first-year course on global issues such as (im)migration, climate change, food security and food sovereignty, labor exploitation, and community formation through online social networking and other media. For the Fall 2015 semester, Kat coordinated the Global Learning Community Certificate Program. Kat serves as Co-Chair of the Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Women and is active in the work of the Campus Advocacy Network and the Women’s Leadership and Resource Center. As a student advocate and ally, Kat is eager to address issues of identity and discrimination in order to make the study abroad experience a positive and developmental one.
In addition to her advising and program management portfolio that includes Austria, Brazil, Germany, Portugal, and the Spanish speaking world, Kat takes the lead on Study Abroad diversity initiatives, oversees the growing scholarship/grant portfolio, is a first responder for safety and risk management, and supervises all outreach and marketing efforts.
Argentina, Germany, South Africa, Spain
Dominican Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal
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Krystal joined the UIC Study Abroad Office in July of 2006, first as a student worker and subsequently as an academic advisor. As an undergraduate, she was very active in UIC student organizations and received many honors and awards related to student leadership. She was the President of the AAAN Ambassadors, the Student Advisor for the Unity in Christ Gospel Chorus, and Chair for the UIC Community Service Committee. Krystal was awarded her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Master of Arts Degree in Public Administration, both earned at UIC.
Krystal is the first responder to all student inquiries and advising on program resources for international academic program choices. She supervises all program operations and academic processing for study abroad, including registration and subsequent transcript articulation, and ensures compliance with international insurance requirements. She also leads the development of data collection and reporting/retrieval systems that directly correlate with university and international education professional standards of best practice and federal guidelines.
Krystal has participated in Standards of Good Practice workshops, international education conferences, and undertaken site evaluation visits in Asia, Europe, and Latin America.
Brazil, China, Greece, Italy, Spain, UK
JOHN E. COUMBE-LILLEY, Ph.D, CC-AASP
John is the Director Undergraduate Studies and Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition in the College of Applied Health Sciences. In January 2017 he was named by the Chancellor as the university’s Faculty Athletics Representative. In this role, he serves to promote academic integrity and institutional control of intercollegiate athletics, to facilitate the integration of academic and athletic components within the university community, and to enhance the student-athlete experience.
John has developed and led six week study abroad programs to Dublin, Ireland in 2015, Sport Psychology: Individual and Team Performance, and Barcelona, Spain in 2016, Movement, Mood, and the Mediterranean Diet. Further programs are planned for Barcelona (2017, 2018) and Amsterdam, Holland (2018). He creates an interdisciplinary learning experience for students and works alongside them to help them achieve their academic success. Several Helen Barton Scholarship students conducted research projects and presented their work based on their study abroad experiences. As the SAO faculty advisor, he has also participated in International Education workshops and program site visits to Ireland, Spain, and Denmark.
John is a hands on faculty member and the quality of the academic and personal experience of every student is his primary concern. His skills have been recognized through several awards:
- 2015, 2013, 2011 – Excalibur Award for Teaching Excellence, College of Applied Health Sciences
- 2013- Teaching Recognition Award, Council for Excellence in Teaching and Learning
- 2012 – Educator of the Year, College of Applied Health Sciences
John has also applied his expertise outside of the university as a Sport Psychology Consultant for the US Curling team at the 2010 Vancouver winter Olympic Games, a Mental and Skills Coach for the US Rugby Women’s National Team, and Sport Consultant for Equestrian Canada, the national governing body for equestrian sport in Canada.