Staff Bios

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-five years and we have fluency in six languages (English, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Lithuanian, and Hindi.) Our academic degree backgrounds include: doctoral research in History and Geography in central India; Oriental Studies and Chinese Linguistics in Russia; Economics and Baltic Studies in Lithuania; Public Administration; Business Administration; and Psychology.

Chris Deegan

Executive Director | 312-413-7662

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.

International Engagement

Program Development/Assessment

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.

Irina Krymova

Associate Director | 312-413-7662

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.

International Engagement

Program Development/Assessment

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.

Krystal Williams

Assistant Director | 312-413-7662

Krystal joined the UIC Study Abroad Office in July of 2006, first as a student worker and subsequently as an academic advisor. She was awarded her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Master of Arts Degree in Public Administration, both earned at UIC. 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 is the first responder to all student inquiries and advising on program resources.  She oversees academic processing for study abroad, including registration and subsequent transcript articulation and ensures compliance with international insurance requirements. Krystal also leads the development of data collection and reporting/retrieval systems that directly correlate with university and international education professional standards of best practice. She oversees a portfolio of study abroad programs in Brazil, Portugal, and Spain.

International Engagement

Program Development/Assessment

Brazil, China, Spain.



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