CISABROAD BLOG · August 16, 2022 · 6 Min Read
Q&A Spotlight With University Relations Director – Mary Alice!

Meet Mary Alice Haas, our new University Relations Director!

During her undergraduate degree, Mary Alice spent semesters in Stellenbosch, South Africa, and Bangalore, India. The experiences impacted her academics, values, personal development, and much more. After graduating from The University of Nevada, Reno, she moved to Tacloban City in the Philippines for a content marketing internship with GoAbroad. This experience helped her discover that she wanted to impact students more directly.

She moved to Beaumont, Texas, and was lucky to serve Lamar University’s brilliant student population, inspiring students to study abroad for nearly two years. After establishing a relationship with CIS Abroad, she was drawn to a community of professionals who shared the same mission and passion. She knew the work they could do together to inspire more students to study abroad would be unstoppable!

Mary Alice lives in Beaumont, Texas, and enjoys using her outside voice, wakeboarding, watching women’s soccer, and getting outside every chance she gets.

Why are you excited to work for CIS Abroad?

In my previous role, I was tasked with researching a variety of study abroad providers and selecting a few that fit our institution’s needs. I was initially unfamiliar with CIS Abroad and what stood out to me was their mission, affordability, custom program offerings, and impactful student reviews on GoAbroad/GoOverseas. This is what led me to apply at CIS Abroad, and this is what excites me to work for such an amazing organization.

The CIS Abroad team is humble, welcoming, growth-oriented, student-centered, and passionate. I am excited to be a part of an organization that brings excellent services to institutions and changes students’ lives in the same way that CIS Abroad brought their energy and dedication to my previous institution. 

Describe a memorable moment from abroad

I boarded a boat with 10 of my coworkers as we embarked to Malapascua Island in the Philippines. About an hour into the boat ride, the deckhands started rushing around and putting down the sails as we approached dense dark clouds. We started hitting massive waves that began spraying only the sections my coworkers and I were sitting in. Anyone would be miserable and rightfully scared, but we were laughing in hysterics as we attempted to use life jackets to shield the water that was spraying only our group. Suddenly two deckhands asked only our group to move to an unstable wooden bench in the middle of the boat to balance the weight.

As each of us stumbled to the bench, blindly reaching out for hands and gasping through the laughs, we finally made it, sat down, and linked arms. Suddenly, a deckhand at the front of the boat raised his hand, and we hit a giant wave. As the boat came crashing down, the bench broke, sending all of us to the floor in about 2 inches of water. I have never laughed harder in my life. After about an hour of this tomfoolery, we neared Malapascua. The water was perfectly still, and the sun began to set. It was a boat ride I will never forget!

Malapascua Island, Philippines in 2019

What has your career path looked like? How did you end up in the field of International Education?

I studied abroad in Stellenbosch, South Africa, and Bangalore, India. Both semesters profoundly impacted my academics, social, and political views. I knew I wanted to bring global experiences to students. I interned at GoAbroad in Tacloban City, Philippines, which introduced me to the field of International Education. I discovered that I wanted to work in a student-serving position, leading me to Beaumont, Texas, where I managed the Office of Study Abroad at Lamar University. After an amazing two years working with the most resilient students, I felt the pull to work at a more macro level offering quality international education experiences to various universities and students. I discovered CIS Abroad, and the rest is history!

Bangalore, India in 2019

What does a typical weekend look like for you?

During the summer weekends, I love to explore. I’ll adventure out to Houston, New Braunsfels, or Austin with friends for yummy food, bike riding, or paddle boarding.

What are 5 words that describe yourself?

Energetic, adventurous, social, compassionate, and optimistic.

What’s your best travel tip?

Traveling has brought individuals into my life who have/ will have an impact on me forever. People are what make traveling so special. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself and put yourself out there. Know the name of the owner of your local fruit market. Invite a new friend to dinner. Ask people about their stories, listen, and ask questions. The relationships you make abroad will impact your life forever.

Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa in 2018

What’s a hot topic in the field that you’re interested in exploring more?

I’m intrigued by a trend that Alejandra Barahona wrote about in NAFSA’s Trendspotting 2022: What’s Next for International Education. She spoke about understanding Gen Z’s expectations of study abroad. Gen Z students are interested in how study abroad contributes to a student’s employability. They’re interested in how study abroad impacts crucial topics like antiracism, the climate crisis, and societal inequities. I’m interested in learning more about the evolution of Gen Z’s study abroad expectations, continuously listening, and learning more. 

On the CIS Abroad blog, we share student-written content and information for students, advisors, other study abroad professionals, and families of students studying abroad. Check out our Facebook and Instagram for more from us and our students!