With a focus on supporting as many students as possible in becoming effective and influential leaders in civil society, SAO strives to: internationalize the curriculum through program opportunities on six continents; engage UIC’s highly diverse student population to become intentional learners with increased global awareness; and assure student access to scholarship and grant support for an international academic experience.
Our vision is to provide programming opportunities for faculty and students to study content in an international context which can best develop and enhance the critical literacies students need for academic success and personal growth.
Our goal is to provide access to a variety of academic experiences abroad and remain committed to making these an integral part of the undergraduate educational experience, better preparing students to meet the challenges and opportunities of an increasingly interconnected global society.
Our protocols, from program, student, and course approval, through registration and transcripting, are in response to those established in a range of UIC administrative units and colleges but also guided by international education standards and best practices.
The Study Abroad Office professional staff have spent considerable time living and working abroad, in addition to participation on study abroad programs. 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, Senior Associate Director
- Marlee Stein, Associate Director
- Krystal Williams, Assistant Director
- Maggie Miller, Study Abroad Advisor
- 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 has served on a number of international education advisory boards, for several years was 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 and NAFSA: Association of International Educators.
Australia, China [mainland & SAR Hong Kong], Denmark, Ethiopia, Fiji, India, Indonesia [Bali & Sumatra], Kenya, Mongolia, Nepal, New Zealand, Samoa, Tanzania, Thailand, UK, Vietnam.
Barbados, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland.
Senior Associate Director
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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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Marlee graduated with a B.S. in Psychology and Spanish and a CIBER certificate in International Business from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. During her junior year, she studied abroad in Granada, Spain. After graduation, she spent two years living and working in Salamanca, Spain. In 2016, Marlee graduated with her M.S. in Higher Education Administration and Policy from Northwestern University. Her thesis focused on the role of US taught content-based foreign language courses on students’ preparation for, and experience in, study abroad programs. Before coming to UIC, she spent several years working for a consortium in their Off-Campus Study department managing and advising on a portfolio of Latin American, European, and U.S. locations. Her other responsibilities focused on pre-departure orientation, program development, and student support services.
Marlee is the lead advisor for all programs in the Spanish-speaking world in addition to a portfolio that includes several European locations. She also oversees the Study Abroad scholarship portfolio, is a certified Gilman International Scholarship advisor, and manages all outreach and promotion including the Study Abroad Alumni Ambassador group, classroom visits, social media, and the annual Study Abroad Fair. Marlee has attended several international education conferences, and undertaken site evaluation visits in Latin America and Europe.
Brazil, Costa Rica, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain, UK.
Argentina, Austria, Czech Republic, Ireland, Portugal, France.
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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.
In addition to oversight of a portfolio of programs in the South Pacific, Caribbean, and across Europe, Krystal is the principle contact person for international exchange partners providing administrative and advising support for undergraduate and graduate students. For outgoing exchange students, she designs the marketing and recruitment strategies, and is responsible for enrollment data collection and management. Monitoring active bi-lateral agreements and exchange balances, Krystal is the liaison between the Study Abroad Office and the Office of International Services for all student exchange mobility.
Krystal has participated in Forum on Education Abroad Standards of Good Practice workshops, international education conferences, and undertaken site evaluation visits in Asia, Europe, and Latin America.
Australia, Belgium, Brazil, China Fiji, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Poland, Spain, Turks and Caicos, and United Kingdom.
Canada, Mexico, and Dominican Republic.
Study Abroad Advisor
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Maggie joined the UIC Study Abroad Office in November 2018. She graduated from Lawrence University in 2013 with a B.A. in Spanish with concentrations in Education, Gender Studies, and Art History. She spent her junior year studying abroad in Salamanca, Spain. After graduation, she worked for a year working as an Au Pair in Madrid, Spain and Rome, Italy.
Maggie is the primary contact for the Study Abroad Office for all students, faculty, and staff. She assists in outreach and creating promotional materials. 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.
In addition to short visits to France, Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland, Morocco, Scotland, Belgium, and Portugal, Maggie has spent a significant amount of time living in Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Mexico, and Denmark.
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, 17, & 18, Movement, Mood, and the Mediterranean Diet. In the summer of 2019, his program will shift to Costa Rica. John has also created the first embedded study abroad program that will be integrated into a Spring semester course with an experiential component in Costa Rica during the semester break.
John 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 Costa Rica, Denmark, Ireland, and Spain.
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.