Pitch Party 2017—What Hurricane?

Maybe it’s because going abroad to work, learn, or help others is so compelling; or maybe it’s because after Harvey nearly drowned us, students are looking for a fast way out of Houston. The bottom line is: the annual Honors International Studies Pitch Party was as big as ever Friday, Sept. 8, as students came to hear pitches from faculty leaders, student volunteers, and scholarship reps.

Maggie Mahoney, full-time learning abroad Guru

It’s not just about the Honors College programs and faculty—though they were there in force. We also had our friends Maggie Mahoney and the new Director of the Office of Learning Abroad, Kelly Kleinkort, who were discussing the wide world of options available through UH’s central office for learning abroad advising as well as scholarships and US passport services.


Associate Dean of CLASS Anadeli Bencomo was also there representing the programs in the Department of Hispanic Studies, along with her colleague Elizabeth Goodin-Mayeda. Programs in the Food Studies and World Cities minors were there, and the Graduate College of Social Work, with Honors College Fellow and Associate Dean of Research Luis Torres and Assistant Dean Amber Mollhagen.

Anadeli Bencomo and Elizabeth Goodin-Mayeda pitch for Hispanic Studies

Marc Hanke and Ann Cheek were there to talk about The College of Natural Science and Mathematics’ amazing research program in the Galapagos Islands. Dr. Steve Spann, the Planning Dean of the UH Medical School, was there once again to talk about the medical service learning program in Santa Ana Honduras, which he led just this past summer and is eager to lead again.

Marc Hanke pitches Galapagos (!)

The truth is, there are so many ways to go abroad to learn or gain experience in your field—or well beyond it. Just ask Victor Yau, a learning abroad superstar who was there to talk about his experiences in Korea through the Department of State’s Critical Language Scholarship Program and the Department of Defense’s Boren Awards. He also went to China through the Houston Scholars Program in Honors. Students like Victor can tell you all about how a few hours of working on applications can yield a lifetime’s worth of memories, experiences, and professional credentials.

Victor Yau, just back from South Korea, pitches CLS and the Boren Awards

The Honors College itself has been in the business of conducting two-week study tours for over thirty years, and this year the destinations will be Israel and Italy.  Dean Bill Monroe was right alongside trip leader Jesse Rainbow, pitching to students a life-changing trip to Israel and Greece for May 2018.

Dean Monroe pitches Israel and Greece 2018

Dustin Gish, leader of the Italy trip, came armed with a full sized monitor and a stack of guidebooks, ready to change your life (for you CANNOT go to Italy without being changed—we guarantee it).


Dustin Gish signing on students bound for Italy

Student organizations were also there, like the Global Humanitarian Student Initiative, Engineers Without Borders, Refugee Enhancement through Humanitarian Aid, and Global Medical Brigades. These service learning organizations are run entirely by and for UH students, and are a great option for those with strong leadership skills and a will to make a real difference in the world.

There are funded opportunities as well, available through the Office of Undergraduate Research and  its advisors for nationally competitive opportunities like the Rhodes, Marshall, and Fulbright programs. Johanna Luttrell of the Hobby School pitches annual fellowships in human rights to the United Nations and Oxford University in the UK. Alison Leland administers internships to the Smithsonian Institution’s various research and collection facilities.

Johanna Luttrell (right) and her student Danielle pitching Human Rights fellowships for the Hobby School

But not all international study requires going abroad.  The Partnership for the Advancement and Immersion of Refugees (PAIR) works in the Houston metropolitan area to help mentor and tutor refugees right here at home, and faculty sponsor Chatwara Duran (Dept. of English) and students like Rachel Shenoi were there to talk about their work.

Rachel Shenoi representing the PAIR volunteer program, which works with refugees in Houston

Joy Tesh and Jodi Nelms were there from the Language and Cultural Center of UH, the ESL program that hosts students from around the world who study right here on our campus. They are always looking for conversation partners, which is a great way to get experience in English education and to prepare for future opportunities, like a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship.

Jodi Nelms and Joy Tesh of the Language and Culture Center

The truth is, there are many, many ways to maximize your education here at UH by taking advantage of programs and opportunities.  All you need to do is talk to the various representatives who are eager to connect you to the world.  Don’t let the opportunities pass you by!


Richard Armstrong

Coordinator of International Programs for the Honors College






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